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An Giang: Remarkable progress achieved for children, yet challenges remain

Young boys in the Mekong Delta region of Dong Thap, Viet Nam. © UNICEF\ Viet Nam\2011\Dominic Blewett

An Giang province, Viet Nam, 15 June 2012 -- An Giang province has made remarkable progress for children over the past decade, according to a flagship report on the provincial situation of children, jointly launched today by An Giang Provincial People’s Committee and UNICEF. Within ten years, from 2000-2009, the infant mortality rate has been halved and the number of children suffering from underweight malnutrition has been cut down by 50 per cent. Today, more than 90 per cent of children attend kindergarten by the age of five, reflecting a sharp increase from 27 per cent in 2000. About 95 per cent of children are now registered by the age of five and ensuring birth registration and full vaccination for children has become a routine for most parents in An Giang province.

“An Giang is demonstrating impressive leadership for its children: overall social expenditure in the province more than doubled from 2005 to 2009, with expenditure on healthcare increasing almost threefold. As the Analysis shows, this commitment to child rights is paying off, contributing to improvements in education, health and survival outcomes for children”, said Ms. Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam.

Commitment to child rights paying off but challenges remain
The Analysis also highlights significant challenges that children in An Giang are facing, especially those living in the poorest communities, Khmer ethnic minority children and those left behind by migrating parents. For example, the infant mortality rate of the province, though reduced over the past decade, is still higher than regional and national rates. The stunting rate among children under five years of age remains high, at 28 per cent in 2010. Only 16 per cent of children attend kindergarten on a full-day basis, which undermines children’s education and nutrition outcomes.

The access to safe water in An Giang is below the national average and that of the Mekong Delta Region. The province has the highest rate of non-completion of primary education in the country, with 37 per cent of people over five years of age not having completed primary school. There is also a growing problem of children who suffer from physical or psychological abuse at home or bullying at school. Located by the border with Cambodia, children in An Giang are also vulnerable to trafficking, commercial exploitation and contracting HIV.

The first ever comprehensive study of children in the province, the Situation Analysis of Children in An Giang Province provides a complete picture of the situation of girls and boys, including an in-depth analysis of remaining challenges that children face. It also examines the possible causes of the situation of children in the province, and analyses them in the context of the Mekong Delta region and Viet Nam as a whole. The Analysis provides recommendations to improve children’s situation by making the provincial Socio-Economic Development Plans (SEDPs) and sector plans more responsive to children’s issues.

“Different departments of the provinces have contributed in this study. The findings of this study will be used in the provinces’ planning and budgeting, including the Socio-Economic Development Plans (SEDPs) and sectoral plans, in order to make them more child-sensitive and evidence-based”, said Mr. Ho Viet Hiep, Vice Chairman of An Giang Provincial People’s Committee.

“We must overcome remaining challenges if we want that all An Giang children, irrespective of whether they live in Tinh Bien District or Long Xuyen City, whether they are Kinh, Khmer or Cham, equitably realise their rights as children and grow into healthy and productive members of Vietnamese society”, Ms. Sylwander concluded.

About UNICEF
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF Viet Nam and its work visit: www.unicef.org/vietnam

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