Laos improves global maternity ranking

May 5, 2011

Laos has shown improvement in the 2011 Mother's Index Ranking. --Photo Save the Children Australia

Laos has moved from 17 to 8 on a list ranking maternal healthcare and well-being amongst the world’s least developed countries.

The State of the World’s Mothers Report is an annual global index which is compiled each year by Save the Children. The 2011 report, released this week, compares the well-being of mothers and children in 164 countries.

Encouragingly, Laos has shown improvement in recent years. According to the 2011 Mother’s Index Ranking, Laos is ranked 8 out of 42 in the least developed countries list. In 2009, the index ranked the country at 17.

Japan, Israel and the Republic of Korea top the rankings for Asia this year, whereas Yemen, Timor-Leste and Bangladesh are the worst Asian countries to be a mother.

“The situation for mothers in Laos can be extremely difficult,” said Mr Matthew Pickard, Country Director of Save the Children Australia. “But solutions do exist. Skilled birth attendants can support women during pregnancy and birth, help prevent common problems and keep children alive.”

Save the Children is supporting the training of 120 skilled birth attendants in Xayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces. The training is being conducted by trainers at the Luang Prabang Nursing College following the national curriculum.

“We are proud to be helping the mothers and children of Laos by providing funding to upgrade local health staff to become skilled birth attendants,” said Mr Pickard.

The State of the World’s Mother 2011 Report shows the news is not so good if you are a child in Laos, ranking Laos 22 out of 44 in the least developed countries list.

This shows a slight increase from previous years – 25 in 2008 and 24 in 2009. Disappointingly, the 2011 ranking of 22 shows a decrease from 2010, at which time Laos was ranked 19 out of 44 countries.

This year, Laos is the third worst place to be a child in Asia, with only Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Yemen lower on the least developed countries list.

The combined indicators that represent children’s well-being to determine the Children’s Index Rankings are under-5 mortality rate, percentage of children under age 5 moderately or severely underweight, gross pre-primary enrolment ratio, gross primary enrolment ratio, gender parity index (gender ratio of school students), gross secondary enrolment ratio, and percent of population with access to safe water.

“Whilst we have seen encouraging improvements to the well-being of mothers in Laos, it is disappointing that we have not been able to see such steady progress in the well-being of children,” Mr Pickard said.

Save the Children calls on all agencies and development partners to do more to ensure that children in Laos are able to achieve their full potential and can grow up in a safe and secure environment.

This includes access to medical care that their families can afford, and for basic education that is affordable and accessible to Lao children of all ethnicities. These are rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), signed and ratified by the government of Laos in 1991.


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