YANGON, Myanmar — Infant and under-five mortality in Myanmar is the second-highest in ASEAN. But there is significant geographical variation within the country. A new census report reveals an alarmingly high number of deaths among children in several districts. In Labutta, Ayeyawady, one in six boys die before their fifth birthday. At state/region level, the highest figures come from Magway and Ayeyawady, where one in ten children die before they reach the age of 5. The findings come from the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Thematic Report on Mortality.
The single most important factor contributing to the deaths of babies and children is low standard of living. Millions of people live in dire conditions in households without safe drinking water, a toilet, or electricity. Substantial reductions in under-five mortality could be achieved by improving people’s standard of living, especially in remote areas.
There is also a strong correlation between fertility and infant/child mortality. The higher the number of children already born to a mother, the lower the survival chance of a new child. A woman’s fifth child is over 500 per cent more likely to die than her first or second child. Married women in Myanmar give birth to five children on average
“The findings uncover the suffering of children and families. Both infant and child mortality would decrease significantly if women in Myanmar had better access to contraceptives, and could choose how many children to have”, says Janet E. Jackson, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar.
Male children in Myanmar are at much higher risk than female children. Under-five mortality is one third higher for boys. A possible explanation is that boys are often given more autonomy than girls, and encounter more hazards such as traffic, electric wiring and falls. To help protect young boys, the report calls for national campaigns against harmful parenting practices.
Among adults too, men are more at risk. Life expectancy in Myanmar at 64.7 is the second-lowest in ASEAN, but for men the probability of dying between the ages of 15 and 59 is more than double that of women. Male life expectancy at 60.2 years is the second-lowest in ASEAN. The report suggests that risky behaviours of men, especially in urban areas, is part of the explanation, and calls for policies and interventions that promote healthier lifestyles.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
Infant mortality – Myanmar: 62 per 1,000 births; Southeast Asia: 24
Under-five mortality – Myanmar: 72 per 1,000 births; Southeast Asia: 30
Life expectancy – Myanmar: 64.7 years (Male 60.2; Female 69.3); Southeast Asia: 70.3
Notes to Editors
The main results of the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census were published in May 2015. The thematic report on Mortality is one of the first in a series of 13. The thematic reports contain new data as well as previously released data which have been statistically adjusted for higher accuracy. The reports analyse the relationship between different data, and shed light on what the numbers tell us about the lives of people in Myanmar. The census was conducted by the Government of Myanmar. UNFPA has provided, and continues to provide, technical and financial support towards the census.