The National Commission for Mother and Child of the Lao PDR acknowledges that its mortality rates for mother and child are the highest among ASEAN members, with 70 deaths for every 1,000 children under one and 98 for every 1,000 youngsters under five. The rate for during-pregnancy and post-natal deaths for mothers is 405 per 100,000.
Officials say the major cause for child mortality is malnutrition. For mothers, it's the lack of knowledge and ignorance about how to properly take care of themselves. Authorities have made efforts to improve mother and child healths. But the quality of life is still very poor for these vulnerable people, said Laos' National Assembly Vice President Saysomphone Phomvihane in his address to the current session of the National Assembly. he added that a major contributing factor is inaccessibility to clean water in rural areas.
The Lao government plans to reduce by 2020 themortality rates for children under one to 35/1,000, 45/1,000 for those under five, and 100/100,000 for mothers. However, health officials admit that reaching that goal will be difficult due to budget constraints, because they usually receive a small share of the national budget because the government gives priority to the development of infrastructures over health care.
For instance, only 13.75% of the next fiscal year's budget is earmarked for health care, compared to more than 26% for public works. The government has proposed a national budget of about 1,150 million dollars for the fiscal year 2008-09 which begins in October, up 12% from the current fiscal year.
Listen to Songrit's report for details in Lao.