Pakistan ranked 46th in Unicef report
LAHORE – Unicef on December 09 launched its annual report on state of the world’s children for 2005 which revealed that over half of them were being robbed of their childhood by poverty, armed conflicts and AIDS.
The report titled, Childhood under threat, says the three factors undermine childhood and have devastating implications on the child. “The three forces represent obstacles to progress, even in areas where the international community knows what is needed and has the resolve to implement programmes to alleviate some of the impacts,” it says.
According to basic indicators, Pakistan has been ranked 46th in descending order of their estimated 2003 under-five mortality rate (U5MR), infant mortality rate (IMR), Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, net primary school enrolment/attendance and percentage of household income.
In Pakistan, the report says the U5MR is 103 per 1,000 live births, IMR 81 per 1,000 live births, GNI per capita US$470, life expectancy at birth 61 years, adult literacy rate 43 per cent, net primary school enrolment/attendance 56 per cent and percentage of the lowest and the highest household income is 21 and 42, respectively. The report also shows that the rate of under-five deaths per year is 567 per 1,000.
With regard to the nutrition indicators, the infants with low birth weight percentage during 1998-2003 is 19 per cent, exclusively breast-fed for less than four months during 1995-2003 are 16 per cent and breast-fed with complementary food during six to nine months of age is 31 per cent.
The HIV/AIDS indicators show its prevalence among adults at 0.1 per cent. There are 74 adults and children per 1,000 persons living with HIV. The report says that the childhood all over the world is far from where it should be, judged against the standards set in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by almost all governments of the world 15 years ago.
Although there have been gains for children over the last decade, it says, there could have been more. The writers of the report fear that some advances made in some fields in several regions and countries “appear to be at risk of reversal due to three key threats: poverty, armed conflict and HIV/AIDS.”
POVERTY: The report says that poverty is the root cause of high rates of child morbidity and mortality. The rights of over one billion children – more than half the children in developing countries – are violated because they are severely under-served of at least one of the basic goods or services that would allow them to survive, develop and thrive.
In the developing world, more than one in three children does not have access to safe water and one in seven has no access whatsoever to essential health services. Over 16 per cent of children under five lack adequate nutrition and 13 per cent of all children have never been to school.
ARMED CONFLICT: As civil strife proliferates – and civilians become its main causalities – millions of children are growing up in families and communities torn apart by armed conflict.
Since 1990, the report says that the conflicts have directly killed around 3.6 million people; tragically more than 45 per cent of them are likely to be children. Hundreds of thousands of children are caught up in armed conflict as soldiers, are forced to become refugees or are internally displaced, suffer sexual violence, abuse and exploitation, or are victims of war.
HIV/AIDS: The report says that AIDS is already the leading cause of death world wide of people between 15 and 49; in 2003 alone, 2.9 million people died of AIDS and 4.8 million people were infected with HIV. Over 90 per cent of people with HIV/AIDS are living in developing countries.
On the impact of HIV/AIDS, the report says that over two million children are infected with HIV and millions more are in households with chronically ill family members. It outlines actions to be taken in regions of low prevalence, and to treat, support and care for children and young people with HIV/AIDS.
The report says these three key threats are not the only factors that undermine childhood, but they are certainly among the most significant. It says the harm they cause lingers well beyond the years of childhood, increasing the likelihood that the next generation will be affected by the same threats.
It says a swift and decisive action is required to reduce the poverty that children experience, protect them from armed conflict and support those orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. “Every one of us has a role to play in ensuring that every child enjoys a childhood.”
Unicef’s executive director Carol Bellamy has said in her message: “When childhood is lost for so many children, our shared future is compromised. We will not reach any of the Millennium Development Goals without accelerated efforts to protect children in these crucial years.”