Children's rights

The early years

Primary school years



The early years

Mother and her baby in Cambodia
© UNICEF/HQ921446e/Lemoyne
Improving mother and child health in Cambodia

Since 1990, the East Asia and Pacific region has reduced its under-5 mortality rate by more than 30 per cent. But that progress has slowed recently, and every year around 1.4 million children in our region die before their fifth birthday. Millions more encounter the debilitating consequences of malnutrition.

  • Most under-age-5 deaths are children who die in the first few months of life. Babies are succumbing to causes directly linked to their mothers’ health and well-being – an area that needs vast improvement in our region.
  • Diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections are major causes of child deaths. Improving access to safe water, sanitation and a healthy environment remains a major challenge in our region.
  • Immunization is not universal. Children in our region are still dying of measles and other preventable childhood diseases.
  • Malnutrition is widespread. In our region, 53 per cent of all deaths of children younger than 5 were attributable to undernutrition. Alarming numbers of children are anaemic and suffer from other nutrition-related ailments that hinder their development
  • Early childhood development is overlooked. Public investment in early childhood development has fallen while governments increasingly rely on the private sector to provide preschools and day care centres.



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