Child and adolescent health and development

Child health and development

Over the years, Member States in the Region have reported significant progress in reducing child mortality. However, at the current rate of progress the Region as a whole is unlikely to achieve the MDG 4 target by 2015. Infant mortality and under-five child mortality remain high in some countries, though other countries have been able to reduce it. About one third of all child deaths in the world occur in SEA Region. High neonatal mortality is still a big challenge in the Region, and is responsible for about half of under-five deaths.

Addressing neonatal mortality requires focusing on several factors from pre-pregnancy to postnatal care at various levels of service provision - from community care and outreach services, to first level and referral level health facilities linked through a functional referral system.

Pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease are the leading causes of post-neonatal mortality in the Region. Effective and and relatively inexpensive interventions are available but their coverage remains low in several Member States. However, immunization coverage is relatively better in most countries, suggesting that health systems have the potential to deliver services. There is a large disparity in child health by sex, poverty, residence, mother's education level and social status, not only in mortality but also in the coverage of interventions.

As the infant/child mortality rates decrease in the Region, birth defects as a proportional cause of mortality would become significant. At present, there is no reliable data on epidemiology of birth defects in the Member States. WHO Regional Office for SEA has initiated activities related to surveillance and prevention of birth defects and is developing Regional Strategy in collaboration with Member States and Partners.

Child and Adolescent Health Unit
Department of Family Health Gender and Life Course (FGL)
World Health Organization - SEARO
IP Estate, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, 110 002 India
Tel : +91 11 2337 0804 Ext: 26315 Fax : +91 11 2337 8510
Email : secah@who.int