Cambodia is the only country in the region where child mortality rates have actually
increased since 1990, making it unlikely the kingdom will achieve its child survival
target under the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) system.
One in seven Cambodian children die before the age of five, due to poor sanitation,
unregulated private clinics and the lack of public health, said the Progress On Children
report released by the United Nations children's fund this month.
Less than half of East Asian and Pacific countries were on track to meet their MDG
promise of cutting under-five child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Cambodia was the worst of a group of countries showing little or no reduction, including
Myanmar, North Korea, Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island nations.
Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Brunei Darussalam were noted in the report for
their progress towards the target.
"The success of these countries has been due not only to their relative economic
prosperity but also to the political will to invest in providing basic healthcare
for all citizens," said Rodney Hatfield, UNICEF representative in Cambodia.
"Children born to poor rural families in Cambodia have a three times greater
chance of dying in early childhood than those born to better-off urban families,"
"We must ensure that these interventions are targeted at those families where
the likeliness of child mortality is greatest."
Health experts say that Cambodia must provide more proven maternal and child treatments
across the healthcare system if it is to stand a chance of meeting its MDG pledge.
"We need to focus on effectively promoting oral rehydration therapy to combat
diarrhea, appropriate complementary feeding practices to reduce malnutrition and
the appropriate use of antibiotics to treat childhood pneumonia," said Jim Tulloch,
country representative for the World Health Organization.
One third of the way to the MDG deadline in 2015, Cambodia is also struggling to
meet its other targets, according to a government report released earlier this year.
While the report recognized the country's achievements in reducing the HIV/AIDS rate
and progress in the huge job of de-mining the war-wracked land, it said Cambodia
was unlikely to meet its goals on poverty, education, gender equality, maternal health
and environmental issues.