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#2219: UNICEF's on the well-being of the world's children (fwd)


I just finished reading UNICEF's "State of the World's Children 2000."

In the words of Kofi A. Annan, "it is a rallying call to us all. It is a call to governments, civil society, the private sector and the whole international community to renew our commitment to children's rights by advancing a new vision for the 21st century: a vision in which every infant has a healthy beginning, every child a quality education and every adolescent the opportunity
to develop his or her unique abilities ..."

As I have done before with the UNDP report "Human
Development 1999" I have culled from this report relevant
statistics in order to illustrate how Haiti compares with a few ofits Caribbean neighbors and with India and Nigeria. Norway and Sierra Leone are also added for reference.

Some will probably object to these statistics - as 
a few have done before - on the basis that statistics are notoriously unreliable, etc. Until and unless they can come up with better statistics, I will stick with UNICEF's as they seem to be themost complete and accurate statistics available on the subject.

UNICEF uses the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) per 1000 as the principal measure of child well-being. The U5MR has several advantages. First, it measures an end result of the development process rather than an "input" such as school enrollment level, per capita calorie availability, or the number of doctors per thousand population -- all of which are means to an end.

Second, the U5MR is known to be the result of a wide variety of inputs: the nutritional health and the health knowledge of mothers; the level of immunization and ORT (*) use; the availability of maternal and child health services; income and food availability in the family; the availability of clean water and safe sanitation; and the overall safety of the child's environment.

Third, the U5MR is less susceptible than, say, per capita GNP to the fallacy of the average. In other words, it is more difficult for a wealthy minority to affect a nation's U5MR and it therefore presents a more accurate, if far from perfect, picture of the health status of the majority of children and of society as a whole.

On this basis, UNICEF has ranked the nations of the world not in ascending order of their GNP per capita but in descending order of their U5MR for 1998. The values for a few countries follow:

Country		Rank	1960	1990	1998

Sierra Leone	   1	 390	 323	 316

Nigeria	   	  15	 207	 190	 187

Haiti		  36	 253	 148	 130

India		  49	 236	 131	 105

Dom. Rep.	  75	 149	  65	  51

Jamaica		 149	  76	  16	  11

Cuba		 160	  54	  13	   8

Norway 	 	 189	  23	   9	   4

What is being done - by the GOH and civil society - to deal with the non-wellness of Haiti's children?

*)  ORT: Oral Rehydration Therapy