Taiwan is ranked 22nd out of 23 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for the health and safety of children, with a relatively high death rate for young children, which is one of the six indicators used by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to assess child well-being in developed countries, the Child Health Alliance Taiwan said yesterday.
Taiwan’s overall ranking for child well-being, ordered according to the average of six aspects of child well-being set by UNICEF, is 11th out of 22 countries. Some nations provided insufficient data and were not included in the overview. However, its ranking for “health and safety” and “subjective well-being” are third from last among the nations ranked, according to the chart provided by the alliance.
Other aspects were “material well-being,” “education well-being,” “family and peer relationships” and “behaviors and risks,” with the nation being placed 14th, fourth, sixth and first respectively.
Health and safety was assessed using several indicators: child health at birth, child immunization rates for children aged from 12 months to 23 months, and child and youth mortality.
With an average of 4.4 infants dying before the age of one per 1,000 births according to statistics from 2006 to 2010, Taiwan is ranked 17th out of the 24 countries that provided data, the chart showed.
Taiwan is ranked 20th on the percentage of infants born with a low birth weight and 22nd for the number of deaths from accidents or injuries, which was 11 per 100,000 children aged from zero to 19.
The death rates for children aged from one to four and for children aged from five to nine are worse, alliance president Lue Hung-chi (呂鴻基) said, adding that with respective death rates of 30.6 and 15.2 per 1,000 children, the country is at the very bottom of the list.
On top of those lists were Finland, 15.3, and Iceland, 5.6.
Taiwan Pediatric Association president Wu Mei-hwan (吳美環) and Raising Children Medical Foundation chairman Frank Wu (吳春福) said the country needed to improve its medical care for children, adding that children are not small adults, but “unique individuals with their own specialized needs.”
“Medical resources should not be allocated or measured in terms of quantity,” Frank Wu said. “Take a coronary stent for example: Children of different ages, unlike adults, would need different stent sizes.”
Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said the ministry aims to halve the infant mortality rate within 10 years and is planning to have all pregnant women registered for better monitoring and screening of premature births, congenital anomalies and perinatal infections.