Improvements in child health and survival have been national development goals since the First Malaysia Plan in 1966.
Vaccines and oral rehydration for the treatment of diarrhoea as well as the availability of child health services that control communicable diseases and immunisation have been made widely accessible, even in rural areas, through the country’s primary health care system.
Infant and child mortality rates have declined dramatically, and are now on par to those of highly developed countries.
These advances, together with progressively increased access to clean water, improved sanitation, and better child nutrition have been the key determinants for the dramatic decline in infant and child mortality rates over the past three and half decades since 1970.
Malaysia's infant and under-five child mortality rates are now comparable to those of highly industrialised countries.
§ Under-five mortality rate (U5MR) has declined from 18 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 6 in 2009.*
§ Infant mortality rate (IMR) has declined from 16 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 6 in 2009.*
As of 2009, Malaysia is ranked at 157 for under-five child mortality together with Canada and the United Kingdom, holding a better ranking than Brunei (151), USA (149), Thailand (125), Philippines (77) and Indonesia (66). The country with the worst ranking is Chad at 1, while Liechtenstein and San Marino are ranked the best at 193. Other countries with good rankings are Sweden, Singapore, Norway and Japan at 184.*
While child and infant survival has improved markedly across Malaysia in the last four decades; economic, social and rural-urban disparities have resulted in spatial differences at the state and local levels. Some 3,000 children in Malaysia die each year before reaching five years old.*
Child mortality levels can be further reduced in Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia. In Peninsular Malaysia, child mortality is lower in the west coast states and higher for the more rural east coast states where poverty rates are higher.
* Source: The State of the World's Children 2011
26 February 2008:
Child survival lies at the heart of human progress