Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Widening inequality’ in care for newborns

‘Widening inequality’ in care for newborns

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A mother holds her infant child as she waits to see a doctor outside Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital last year. Hong Menea

‘Widening inequality’ in care for newborns

Despite vast progress in maternal and newborn care in Cambodia over the years, a new study has found that the inequality gap between babies born to poor, rural families and their richer, urban counterparts has only widened since 2000.

The analysis – using data from the latest Cambodian Demographic and Health Surveys and published in the peer-reviewed PLOS ONE journal in March – found that while neonatal mortality in the country declined considerably over the years, inequality gaps based on the rich-poor and rural-urban divide have in fact increased.

In 2000, one in 26 infants born alive did not survive their first month; in 2014, the rate was one in 48. While mortality in Cambodia as of 2015 was still high compared to Southeast Asia as a region – with an average 1 in 77 live births – it had plummeted by nearly half since 1990.

The Kingdom’s success, however, was not evenly distributed within the country. The study found not only that babies born in rural households in 2014 were 2.39 times more likely to die within their first month than those born in urban households, it also found that this inequality gap had increased considerably since 2000. In 2000, the relative risk was estimated at 1.52.

In addition, babies born to poor families in 2014 were 3.84 times more likely to die within their first month compared to those at the top of the wealth distribution, a relative risk that had also increased over the years, researchers said.

“Despite progress made in reducing maternal and child mortality at the national level in recent years, some parts of the country are still lagging behind due to the cost of accessing health facilities, staff shortages and poor quality health services,” Unicef Cambodia Communications Specialist Bunly Meas said in an email yesterday.

“Neonatal mortality is closely related to the care services provided to the mother and baby during pregnancy and at birth . . . The distribution of health services, both by public and private facilities, is different from urban to rural areas.”

According to Chhuon Wathna, country health specialist at Plan International Cambodia, a lack of infrastructure and education are also impediments to women’s healthcare in rural areas.

“For those in rural areas, the access and utilisation of public health care is lower than those who are in urban areas . . . Transportation is a problem in many remote areas, where there are mountains or no main roads. Education is [also] important. People need to understand why [mothers] need to have skilled medical attendants for delivery,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to