Bhutan has nar­rowed down the gap of child care

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

Bhutan has nar­rowed down the gaps and has made sig­nif­i­cant progress over the years in child care. Poverty has been halved, from 24 per­cent in 2012 to 12 per cent now; stunt­ing or chronic un­der nutri­tion in chil­dren un­der five has re­duced from 33.2 per­cent in 2010 to 21.2 per­cent in 2015, and un­der 5 mor­tal­ity rate has re­duced from 134 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 33 per 1,000 live birth in 2015.

Dur­ing the launched of the State of the World’s Chil­dren re­port last Thurs­day in the cap­i­tal, UNICEF Bhutan Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Ms. Shaheen Nilofer said “A child born to the poor­est fam­ily from ru­ral ar­eas and with un­e­d­u­cated mother has the high­est change of dy­ing by the age of five com­pared to a child born to a rich fam­ily, ed­u­cated mother in ur­ban ar­eas.” She added that in a world of eq­uity, ev­ery­one should move for­ward. More than ever, we should rec­og­nize that devel­op­ment is sus­tain­able only if it can be car­ried on and sus­tained by fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“We have an op­por­tu­nity to re­place vi­cious cy­cles with vir­tu­ous cy­cles in which to­day’s poor chil­dren, if given a fair chance at health, ed­u­ca­tion and pro­tec­tion from harm, can, as adults, com­pete on a more level play­ing field with chil­dren from wealth­ier back­grounds,” said Ms. Shaheen Nilofer.

The State of the World’s Chil­dren, UNICEF’s an­nual flag­ship re­ported that paints a stark pic­ture of what is in store for the world’s poor­est chil­dren if gov­ern­ments, donors, busi­nesses and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions do not ac­cel­er­ate ef­forts to ad­dress their needs.

The re­port stated that sig­nif­i­cant progress has been made in sav­ing chil­dren’s lives, get­ting chil­dren into school and lift­ing peo­ple out of poverty. Global un­der-five mor­tal­ity rates have been more than halved since 1990, boys and girls at­tend pri­mary school in equal num­bers in 129 coun­tries, and the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty world­wide is al­most half what it was in the 1990s.

The press re­lease stated that this progress has been nei­ther even nor fair. The poor­est chil­dren are more than six times more likely to be stunted than the rich­est; poor­est chil­dren are more than thrice as likely to die be­fore their fifth birth­day than chil­dren in the rich­est quin­tile; chil­dren whose moth­ers have no for­mal ed­u­ca­tion are 63 per cent more likely to be stunted com­pared to chil­dren whose moth­ers have a sec­ondary or higher ed­u­ca­tion.

She added that ev­ery child has same right to ba­sic rights, se­cured child­hood to be­come a pro­duc­tive and pros­per­ous adult­hood. A child de­prived of ed­u­ca­tion de­prives the child’s po­ten­tial to suc­ceed and ex­cel in their life.

Dur­ing the launch­ing of the re­port, Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Ly­onpo Jigme Zangpo said that this year’s re­port fo­cuses on how best to tackle in­equity­mak­ing the right choices that break in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cy­cles of de­pri­va­tion, marginalization and vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

He said that there are three main ar­eas which are dis­par­i­ties of child sur­vival, ed­u­ca­tion and child poverty and added that in­equity is not in­evitable; it’s a choice that we make and must make.

The Speaker said that Bhutan has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in re­duc­ing child deaths, in ex­pand­ing ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion, im­proved wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion to pop­u­la­tion as well as achieved the Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goal of four tar­get with in­fant and un­der-five deaths cur­rently 30 per 1000 live births and 37.3 per 1000 live births re­spec­tively as well as en­acted Child Care and Pro­tec­tion Act and Child Adop­tion Act.

He how­ever said that there are still is­sues of in­equities in Bhutan where still 12 per­cent of Bhutanese liv­ing below poverty line, one in ev­ery five chil­dren un­der five are stunted and only one in five chil­dren aged three to five years at­tend early child­hood care and devel­op­ment ser­vices. While con­clud­ing, Speaker re­it­er­ated that Bhutan is com­mit­ted to ad­dress that is­sue and will con­tinue to nar­row such dis­par­i­ties through poverty al­le­vi­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease from the UNICEF, new­born deaths are still high in Bhutan, ac­count­ing for more than half which is 54 per­cent of un­der five deaths oc­cur­ring in the first 28 days of birth, mostly as a re­sult of dis­eases that can be read­ily and af­ford­ably pre­vented and treated.

The re­lease states that about one in five chil­dren un­der the age of five in Bhutan still re­main stunted. Only one in five chil­dren aged three to five years in Bhutan have ac­cess to early learn­ing in an or­ga­nized set­ting such as an early child­hood care and devel­op­ment (ECCD) cen­tre.

Early child­hood stim­u­la­tion and learn­ing can im­proves school readi­ness and re­duces the chances of rep­e­ti­tion and drop-out. How­ever, in eight of the 20 dis­tricts, only half of three to five year olds are de­vel­op­men­tally on track. And, 12 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion still lives below the poverty line.

The State of the World’s Chil­dren (SOWC) 2016 re­port points to ev­i­dence that in­vest­ing in the most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren can yield im­me­di­ate and longterm ben­e­fits. In­equity is not in­evitable, the re­port ar­gues.

Bet­ter data on the most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, in­te­grated so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges chil­dren face, in­no­va­tive ways to ad­dress old prob­lems, more eq­ui­table in­vest­ment and in­creased in­volve­ment by com­mu­ni­ties – all th­ese mea­sures can help level the play­ing field for chil­dren.

This year’s SOWC re­port with the theme, a fair chance for ev­ery child fo­cuses on three key ar­eas that will have a crit­i­cal bear­ing on achiev­ing eq­uity for ev­ery child by 2030: poverty, child sur­vival and ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a UNICEF re­port, about 69 mil­lion chil­dren un­der five will die from mostly pre­ventable causes, 167 mil­lion chil­dren will live in poverty, and 750 mil­lion women will have been mar­ried as chil­dren by 2030, the tar­get date for the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals – un­less the world fo­cuses more on the plight of its most dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren.

Mean­while, the re­port was launched by the Speaker in the pres­ence of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in­clud­ing the all Cabi­net Min­is­ters and the Prime Min­is­ter.

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