Child mortality in China stays high

AFP , BEIJING

Sat, Jan 26, 2008 - Page 5

Child mortality among China's rural poor and its millions of migrants remains high despite overall improvements, state media quoted the WHO as saying yesterday.

The mortality rates are "still alarmingly and unacceptably high in rural areas and among migrant populations," Hans Anders Troedsson, the WHO's China representative was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

He was speaking at the launch of an annual report by the UN's Children's Fund (UNICEF) on the state of the world's children which said the problem was improving worldwide including in China.

However, the paper quoted a UNICEF China official as saying child mortality in remote and rural parts of the country remained two to five times higher than urban areas. No precise figures were immediately available from WHO or UNICEF on mortality rates for China's migrants or rural poor.

The UNICEF report said the death rate of children under five years was 24 per 1,000 live births in 2006, down from 45 per 1,000 in 1990. But the report also said about 415,000 children died in China each year, 4.3 percent of the world total.

About 10 percent of China's 1.3 billion population still live in poverty, estimates show.

An estimated 150 million people have become migrant workers, seeking jobs far from their homes and often taking their families with them. Their migrant status means they frequently have problems obtaining health care.