A mothers with her newborn baby at the maternity ward at Hanoi's Central Obstetrics Hospital. PHOTO: NGOC THANG
Vietnam was ranked 93rd on the 2014 Mothers’ Index released by NGO Save the Children on Tuesday.
Despite falling seven spots on the index, the country remains ahead of regional neighbors Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The index is a part of the 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers report that compares 178 countries around the globe in saving and improving the lives of mothers and their children.
This year’s Index ranked Finland as the best place to be a mother for the second straight year and Somalia as the worst.
The report shows that maternal and child mortality in the most challenging countries of the world can be dramatically cut when efforts are made to improve services for mothers and children.
Over the past 15 years, Vietnam has seen maternal mortality cut in half, child mortality decreased by a quarter, expected years of schooling increased by 1.5 years, and gross national income per capita increase almost four-fold.
“Vietnam has made tremendous progress in maternal and child health over the past 15 years,” said Gunnar Andersen, country director for Save the Children in Vietnam. “This is a result of strong political will and willingness to invest in healthcare, amongst other essential services for children.”
“But we should also be concerned about the dip in its rankings,” he said.
Anderson said Vietnam remains vulnerable to destructive typhoons and seasonal floods, which have become more severe in recent years due to climate change.
“It has caused widespread destruction of homes, losses in crops, livestock and damages to other assets such as tractors in the worst-affected areas, which in turn can cause a spike in malnutrition, school dropouts, and a decrease in usage of paid health services,” he said.
Save the Children has been working in Vietnam for about 20 years, providing the worst-affected children and families with cash grants in the aftermath of disasters to help them repair homes, buy essential food and medicine, and keep their children in school.
The organization calls for Vietnam to ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high-quality healthcare and build up health systems to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health.
It also advised the country to develop national and local preparedness plans tailored to respond to the specific needs of mothers, children and babies in emergencies, and ensure adequate financing and coordination to provide timely response to mothers and children’s needs in emergencies.
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