Country situation as affecting children and women
The Human Development Report (HDR) 2010 indicates that Uzbekistan moved to a medium human development status ranking 102 out of 169 countries. In August, the World Bank classified the country as a lower middle income country with GNI per-capita (Atlas) 1,100 USD. The GDP growth is 8.3%. However, its correlation with the reduction of poverty is not obvious. Public expenditure remained at 12% of GDP for education and 2.3% for health.
The Parliament adopted two laws on children: ‘Preventive Measures from Micronutrient Deficiency’ and ‘Prevention of Child Neglect and Juvenile Delinquency’. Despite some positive trends in the political and macroeconomic environment, challenges persist, including the achievement of MDGs with equity.
Analysis shows that although most MDGs are likely to be met at the national level, challenges remain in the regions as seen below:
MDG1. According to official statistics, poverty rates have been decreasing nationwide down to 24%. Yet, rural areas especially in Karakalpakstan and Surkhandarya are most affected with GNI per capita 5 times lower than in Tashkent city. Likewise, child poverty (1 USD/day) is 4 times higher in Karakalpakstan (49%) compared to Tashkent city. Children are the household members that benefit the least in case of improved income, with under-5-year children recording the highest poverty rate (32%).
MDG 2 was officially reached; however, analysis suggests that a significant proportion of children do not seem to benefit from quality primary education, with 36% of teachers in rural areas fully qualified as compared to 61% in urban areas.
MDG3. In the education system, formal gender parity in terms of access to primary education has already been achieved. UNICEF data confirms the existence of the practice of more intense involvement of girls in time consuming domestic work that might limit girls’ time for homework, therefore impeding their ability to learn effectively.
Regarding Secondary education, the 2007-2008 National HDR suggests that the introduction of centralized schools for secondary specialized education have raised access barriers for girls from traditional families who do not allow them to live away from home or commute long distances. Data from the Demographic and Health Survey confirms that in all gender related indicators, disparities actually affect girls more heavily than women. Additionally, analysis suggests that gender equality fares better among some ethnic groups more than others.
MDG4. Infant and child mortality rates have decreased to 34 and 38 respectively. Even so, child mortality rates in Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya are more than 2-fold the rates in central regions. Immunization coverage has been quite stable during the decade with only a slight decrease recently. Constraints still need to be overcome to guarantee the sustainability of the campaigns (especially with 45% of the vaccines included in the routine programme financed with donor funds). Almost 40% of poor families do not use health facilities due to lack of money.
MDG5. Maternal mortality rates have declined to 28 but disparities continue. According to administrative data, Bukhara and Korezm regions have the highest mortality rates, which are three times higher as compared to Jizzak and Samarkand. In the Southern regions, less than 78% of pregnant women benefit from all components of antenatal care, compared with 98% in Tashkent city.
MDG6. Official figures recorded about 13,000 HIV/AIDS-infected people of which more than 9% are children. Sexual transmission is on the rise with a likely rise in vertical transmission as well. Paediatric cases are becoming a concern. Stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes are prevalent: 97% of women agree with at least one discriminatory statement towards people with HIV/AIDS.
MDG7. According to official statistics, the share of population with access to safe drinking water has moderately increased to 82.5%, and 99% of the population has access to sanitary means of excreta disposal. Nevertheless, the coverage is uneven: 67% of the population in the Southern regions access safe drinking water compared to almost 100% of Tashkent city. The Aral Sea disaster has brought critical health problems for 1 million women and 1.5 million children.