A new report has found that the Philippines is a worse place for children to grow up than North Korea.
The Philippines ranked 96th out of 172 countries in the End of Childhood 2017 report, released by Save the Children today (Thursday, June 1), which is also International Children’s Day.
The country also lags behind Southeast Asian neighbours Vietnam (92), Thailand (84), Malaysia (65), Brunei (64) and Singapore (33).
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea – ranked in 78th place.
The report ranked the countries by comparing data on childhood mortality, stunting, out-of-school children, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, internal displacement due to conflicts and childhood homicide.
Among these indicators, the Philippines did worst in child mortality, stunting and teenage pregnancy.
Save the Children country director Ned Olney said: “In each indicator, that’s what is happening to poor families in much greater numbers. If you break down the statistics by quantile… it’s a sliding scale, it’s really high when you are poor and down to really low if you’re rich.”
The organisation’s health and nutrition advisor Dr Amado Parawan the three indicators all helped cause a “vicious cycle” of a “stolen childhood” for Filipino children.
“We found that a lot of malnourished children, when you look at their mothers, they are teenagers. And 50 per cent of child mortality is attributed to malnutrition and wasting. And, of course, it is a vicious cycle,” he said.
Of the three indicators, the report said that stunting was the most widespread problem in the Philippines, with about 3.6 million children affected.
It’s summary reads: “Stunted growth is caused by the chronic malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Chronic malnutrition at this stage of this life is largely irreversible and stunted children face a lifetime of lost opportunities in education and work.”
Mr Olney said the government should allocate more cash for improving nutrition and also support the ‘1,000 days bill’ — which aims to ensure childhood nutrition programmes in every baranguay — in the Senate.
“If you think about it,” he said, “increasing the number of productive members of society is great for everyone.
“What does it do even for the billionaires of the Philippines to have millions of workers who are under-educated and undernourished and less productive? It doesn’t help them. Rising tide lifts all boats, as we say.
“You need to invest in the poorest of the poor. I am scared for countries that have this never-ending expansion of the difference between the rich and the poor. We all live in the same country. I really believe that you need to invest in the poor to help everyone.”
The report listed Norway, Slovenia, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Italy and Belgium as the top eight places for children to grow up. Tied in 10th place were Belgium, Cyprus, Germany and South Korea.
Guinea, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Chad, Somalia, Central African Republic, Mali, Angola and Niger were among the countries at the bottom of the list.
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