Myanmar ranked 157th on the best places in the world to be a mother, Save the Children says

Tuesday 6 May 2014

YANGON, MYANMAR – Myanmar is ranked 157th on Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index – which ranks the best and toughest places in the world to be a mother – released today. The country remains the lowest ranked country within the ASEAN region, trailing neighbours Cambodia and Laos.

The index is a part of the children’s aid agency’s annual State of the World’s Mothers report, now in its fifteenth edition, comparing 178 countries around the globe, showing which are succeeding – and which are failing – in saving and improving the lives of mothers and their children. Overall, Finland was ranked the best place to be a mother for the second straight year and Somalia came in last.

The report shows that maternal and child mortality in the most challenging countries of the world can be dramatically cut when efforts are made to improve services for mothers and children. In Myanmar, maternal mortality has been cut by over 40 percent, child mortality decreased by one-third, expected years of schooling increased by 0.7 years and gross national income per capita rose 750 percent over the past 15 years.

“Myanmar has made some improvements over the past 15 years, in particular on maternal mortality and economic well-being. However, these improvements have been extremely gradual and insufficient to reach development targets as set out in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals,” said Kelland Stevenson, country director for Save the Children in Myanmar. “Increased and urgent investment in essential services for children such as quality education and health services will be crucial in improving the country’s ranking, which is currently bottom of the region.”

This year’s State of the World’s Mothers report focuses on mothers in humanitarian crises in order to better understand and respond to their needs. Mothers in humanitarian crises are often faced with many obstacles to keep their children healthy – such as physical and economic access to essential services – while their own vulnerability to poverty, malnutrition, sexual violence, unplanned pregnancy and unassisted childbirth greatly increases. 

“Myanmar is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and earthquakes.  In the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Nargis, in May 2008, there was a severe shortage of health facilities and lack of access to critical health services,” said Kelland Stevenson. “Myanmar also has pockets of conflict, where mothers and their children are likely to face widespread shortage in essential services. The lack of health services, coupled with poor living conditions for internally displaced populations can be fatal, especially for pregnant women and newborns.”

To protect mothers and children in the aftermath of disasters, Save the Children is calling upon States and civil society to:

·         - Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care

·         - Build the resilience of health systems to minimise the damaging effects of crises on health

·         - Develop national and local preparedness plans tailored to respond to the specific needs of mothers, children and babies in emergencies

·         - Ensure adequate financing and coordination to timely respond to mothers and children’s needs in emergencies

ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Maung Maung Lwin at +95 949282576 or maungmaung.lwin@savethechildren.org