Bhutan has narrowed down the gap of child care
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.