6 Aug 2008

UNICEF calls for public health boost to lower Pacific child mortality

3:36 pm on 6 August 2008

UNICEF has called for a big increase in spending on health with a number of Pacific countries feature high on its log of child mortality rates.

A UNICEL report, the State of Asia-Pacific's Children 2008, shows that Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands have the highest rates of child mortality in the region.

The figures for PNG and Solomon Islands are the worst with 73 deaths for every 1,000 births.

Pacific countries on track to achieve the Fourth Millennium Goal of reducing child mortality rates by two thirds between 1990 and 2015 are Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, and Niue.

UNICEF's New Zealand Executive Director Dennis McKinlay says there is need for a dramatic increase in investment in public health services that specifically target the poorest and most marginalised.

Mr McKinlay says public health expenditure across the Asia Pacific region remains well below the world average.