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Infant mortality rate remains worrisome

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The Health Ministry hopes to halve the infant mortality rate by 2020. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The rate of infant mortality remains worrisome as the Ministry of Health battles to reduce it by 50 percent by the end of 2020, a health official said.

Chhour Y Meng, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said during an annual meeting yesterday that the ministry is hoping to reduce the infant mortality rate to 14 infants among 1,000 by the end of 2020.

Children await treatment at Kantha Bopha Hospital in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

“Maternal mortality and infant mortality are still high in Cambodia and we all must work together to reduce it,” Mr Y Meng said.

He said that infants have died in the past due to suffocation, being underweight at birth, and viral infections.

According to an annual report released by the ministry yesterday, 2,124 of 272,886 children under five years of age who came for treatment at public and private health services died in 2017.

Mr Y Meng said the ministry wanted to reduce the infant mortality rate from 30 infants per 1,000 in 2010 to 14 infants among 1,000 by the end of 2020, a 50 percent drop.

“We also plan to train midwives by the end of 2020 to be infant specialists. We have just found that Kangaroo Mother Care is the best care between mother and infant to be healthy,” he said.

A total of 326,328 infants, or about 90 percent, under one year old received full doses of routine immunization in 2017, the report added.

A total of 1,199 cases of vaccine preventable diseases were also investigated, such as suspected polio, flaccid limbs, measles, whooping cough, newborn tetanus and meningitis.

Kim Sulphirun, director of Kampong Cham provincial health department, said that in 2017, 128,306 children under five years old received treatment at state hospitals and public and private clinics in the province and that 135 children died due to disease.

Mr Sulphirun said that most children had respiratory problems, diarrhoea and dengue fever.

“In general, treatment for children under five years of age has improved, but some children have died because they had acute respiratory problems and were infected with several diseases,” he said. “Regarding dengue fever, no child has died.”

In 2017, 306,984 pregnant women had their babies delivered at state hospitals, 8,664 pregnant women had their babies delivered at private hospitals, and 14,522 of them had their babies delivered at home by midwives and health staffers, the report noted.

There were 49 cases of maternal mortality, including six cases at home, two cases at private clinics, three cases at public hospitals and the remainder as the mother travelled to a hospital, the report said.

It said that deliveries assisted by traditional birth attendants decreased significantly from 1,846 in 2016 to 1,128 in 2017.

Liu Yunguo, the World Health Organisation representative in Cambodia, said that WHO was working with the government to improve the health sector.

“WHO as development partners is committed to continuing our efforts to align and mainstream our work with the government to improve social health services,” he said.

The report issued yesterday also addressed HIV and AIDs for 2017, when there were 572 new cases of HIV infection.

The report noted that HIV treatment coverage reached 85 percent for patients aged over 14 and 97 percent for patients under the age of 14.

Ly Penhsun, director of the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, said that HIV prevalence decreased from 1.6 percent in 1998 to 0.6 percent in 2017, and new HIV infections reduced from more than 3,500 in 2005 to less than 600 in 2017.

Mr Penhsun said that that number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS also decreased, from more than 8,400 in 2005 to less than 2,300 in 2017.

“The number of HIV infections is down from year to year,” he said.

Cambodia is one of seven countries worldwide recognized for its efforts toward achieving the 90-90-90 targets for HIV/AIDS, with the highest treatment coverage of more than 80 percent in the region and a significant reduction in new HIV infections, the report added.

To continue this progress and reach the national goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2025, increased prevention and treatment is crucial, it said.

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