The children of Myanmar

A snapshot of child wellbeing in myanmar

Change begins with children

Children in Myanmar


Children in Myanmar

© UNICEF Myanmar/2004/Noorani

Today in Myanmar, some inroads are being made in advancing children's rights and improving the provision of basic social services for children. Nevertheless, disparities remain pronounced throughout the country, with children and women in remote areas often being particularly underserved.

While progress has been made in improving children's health through child immunization and nutrition initiatives, Myanamr continues to have high infant and under-five mortality rates, with 50% of all child deaths attributable to preventable causes. One in three children under five years of age are still malnourished, and youth are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

Although water and sanitation coverage has substantially increased in recent years, many households still lack access to safe water and sanitary facilities, and water-born diseases remain a major killer of children under five years of age throughout the country. Parasite infections resulting from impure water are exacerbating child and infant malnutrition, and poor sanitary conditions are providing breeding grounds for disease.

Today, primary school enrollment rates are high, and more schools are being constructed. However, less than half of all children in Myanmar currently complete primary school. Many school expenses must be borne by students' families, presenting an insurmountable financial obstacle for many improverished households. Classroom facilities are often poor and under-equipped, and attrition rates among teachers are high due to low pay, poor working conditions and long separations from their families.

© UNICEF Myanmar/2004/Noorani

In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the importance of child protection intiatives. Nevertheless, high primary school dropout rates and widespread poverty have had the effect of rendering large numbers of Myanmar's children and youth vulnerable to various forms of exploitation.

In recent years there has been a growing recognition of the importance of child protection intiatives.

Many children are employed in factories, teashops and other business enterprises where they work long hours under arduous conditions, for very little pay. Other children take to the streets to beg, some run afoul of the law, and others are conscripted despite national laws prohibiting this practice. Many of these children are vulnerable to trafficking, and many trafficked children and women are forced to work in the commercial sex industry.

Despite these challenges, there is reason for hope. UNICEF in Myanmar is working with its partners to help children and their families surmount the problems that they face, and more fully realize their rights to health, education, equality and protection.



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