State of Children: Pakistani child mortality rates nearly twice as high as India’s

Published: July 18, 2015
Despite progress, the country is not doing as well as its regional counterparts. PHOTO: AFP

Despite progress, the country is not doing as well as its regional counterparts. PHOTO: AFP


A Pakistani child is almost twice as likely to die before his or her fifth birthday as an Indian child. Despite significant improvements over the past two decades, Pakistan ranks towards the bottom among countries in the world when it comes to infant and neonatal mortality, according to a report issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

According to the 2014 State of Children in Pakistan report, one in every 14 Pakistani children (7.1%) die before their first birthday, and one in every 11 (9.1%) do not survive to their fifth birthday. In 1990, the proportion of children who died before the age of one – the infant mortality rate – was 10.6%, and those who did not make it to the age of five – the under-five mortality rate – was 13.8%. While these numbers represent a dramatic improvement over the past two decades, they are still much worse than even comparable countries around the world.

In India, for instance, the infant mortality rate in 2012 was much lower at 4.4% and even the under-five mortality rate was at 5.6%. In 1990, India did start off with lower rates for both than Pakistan – 12.6% and 8.8%, respectively – but has made more progress in reducing both numbers.

The mortality rates among children are often seen as a proxy for the level of social development in a country, since they reflect the level of nutrition, parents’ education, and access to health services. The report, the second such study on Pakistan’s children by Unicef, cites a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities as one of the biggest impediments in reducing child mortality.

Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities has a wide range of impact on children’s health and the current status of sanitation and poor hygiene practices has led to significant public costs, such as premature deaths, economic and financial costs due to diseases attributable to poor sanitation, environmental costs, and other welfare costs.

As one of the most powerless groups in society, children often bear the physical and emotional costs of poverty. Poverty experienced by children can affect the rest of their lives, and is more often passed from generation to generation, affecting the long-term health, well-being, and productivity of families as well as society as a whole.

Low levels of education compel families to engage in labour-intensive, low-paying jobs that generate insufficient income to satisfy the needs of the family. The distress and poor health conditions that result from the imbalance between household demands and parents’ ability to satisfy those demands pushes children into work and a lifelong struggle to meet levels of even basic subsistence and robs them of their basic rights to education, good health, and safety.

The challenges to child protection as a result of poverty and inequality are more difficult to overcome when they are compounded by social exclusion and discrimination. Poverty also undermines support systems, whether these are the informal structure that would normally provide mutual support among community members in hard times, or formal structures such as economic safety nets and social services, especially where government lacks the capacity and resources to make these measures effective.

Children growing up in poverty are less likely to access basic social services of quality or to benefit from preventive initiatives or protection mechanisms.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Alladitta
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:13AM

    A few days back there was a report and we were all happy that Pakistan has reached standards of hygiene and sanitation comparable to the developed countries. Was that report correct or is this? I argued that time and said the books have been cooked and promised to eat my hat if proven otherwise. Seems like you may cook one set of books but not all. Let us be truthful, whom are we lying to, I would say ourselves. Who suffers from these lies, I would again say, We.Recommend

  • a_writer
    Jul 18, 2015 - 2:03AM

    Why does this have to be a comparison with India’s children mortality rate? Even if it is 10% of the rate of India, it is a shameful matter and that goes both ways. It is disgusting that countries like India, Pakistan and other nations don’t have the human decency to do everything to provide basic care for their most vulnerable citizens but have a bottomless pit of money to fire off ‘tit for tat’ missiles every few weeks.Recommend

  • Soofia Malik
    Jul 18, 2015 - 2:06AM

    Anyone with a bit of common sense can see through this indian propaganda using cooked figures. We all know their sanitation and slum problems are the worst in the region so how can their figures be true?Recommend

  • Saner Minds doesn't exist in South Asia
    Jul 18, 2015 - 2:24AM

    @Soofia Malik:
    It’s not your problem Soofia. It generally happens when one lives in the world of denial & self obsession of superiority complex. So when the cat is out of the hat it is named as propaganda…..

    ET please publish…….Recommend

  • Kolsat
    Jul 18, 2015 - 3:55AM

    @a_writer: you are ahypocrite because on one hand you ask why should Pakistan compare its child mortality stats with India’s and then you go on to say that that is is disgusting that countries like India do not look after the health of its children. Just talk about what Pakistan should do and leave india alone. Recommend

  • Xoxo
    Jul 18, 2015 - 4:10AM

    @Soofia Malik:

    Exactly. UNICEF is just like world bank and IMF that cooks numbers to make India look better than Pakistan.Recommend

  • Shakti
    Jul 18, 2015 - 5:31AM

    There goes the myth that Pakistan is somehow richer than India.
    India has left Pakistan behind despite starting out as a much poorer nation. In the next 20 years India will be an economic power to reckon with.Recommend

  • Milind
    Jul 18, 2015 - 9:17AM

    Those Pakistani leaders who derided our Hindu leaders / ministers in the Modi Govt as ‘wall to wall ugliness’ , ought to see the above pic. Recommend

  • Tasvid Khan
    Jul 18, 2015 - 9:50AM

    Guys, show some humanity, please. It doesn’t matter what the title of the article is. It doen’t matter what caste, creed, sect or nation a kid belongs to. Reading something like this should provoke us into trying to improve this world. A kid dying in any part of the world due to avoidable circumstances should be a wake-up call for us to start building a better society, starting with our own surroundings. I hope that all of us, including myself, are able to improve our mindsets and faithfully work to bring positive change in society!Recommend

  • Brar
    Jul 18, 2015 - 10:23AM

    @Soofia Malik: In denial mode as always and it is not going to serve the purpose, yes there are lot of problems in India lack of clean drinking water, lack of toilets, good health facilities, though we have world class health facilities but these are not with in the reach of poor people, but the Govt is trying its best but we have population that is six times that of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    Jul 18, 2015 - 11:18AM

    It’s shameful that such a serious subject is caught up in India Pakistan rhetoric.

    The figures for both sides are appalling, but improving.

    Bangladesh is much poorer than both countries, but leagues ahead, let’s hope we can stop being in denial, thinking everything is a conspiracy and accept responsibility for our own actions and policies, only then can we progress.

  • Ahmad
    Jul 18, 2015 - 11:26AM

    Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, otherwise the population growth rate will be even higher and we all know that Pakistan cannot sustain its current growth rate!Recommend

  • rk singh
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:09PM

    @Shakti: In the next 20 years India will be an economic power to reckon with.

    It already is. India is third richest country in the world by GDP,PPP and seventh richest by Nominal . India is the third highest nation with more billionaires than Germany and UK.

    But unfortunately we have a huge population of poor, who are multiplying fast. If India controls this segment of population, the problem is solved.Recommend

  • Omy
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:22PM

    @Soofia Malik:
    Yes you are right, its all a propaganda, you are doing great, now go back to sleepRecommend

  • Ali
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:42PM

    This is a conspiracy of RAW to maligning the pride of Pakistan, we are fat ahead of Indians in all fields and they con’t compete with us in economic development and human development of Pakistan so they are taking this cheep rout of paying international rating agencies to give such cooked up figures in their favor, Insha Allah if we get a good leader you govern Pakistan soon we will become a super power of world and they day will come soon and the dirty Hindu Indians won’t be a united country to see that…Recommend

  • Sumit
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:48PM

    and Why is this a surprise..!!
    I mean, mortality rate is indirectly proportional to health and education budgets and as facts show, India has been spending significantly more than Pakistan on both fronts for at-least 20 years now. Having said that, both countries can(read should) spend more on health and education to further bring this mortality rate down.Recommend

  • hellboy
    Jul 18, 2015 - 1:56PM

    Without comparison with India there is no news!!Recommend

  • Timorlane
    Jul 18, 2015 - 3:15PM

    Fruits of NawaZardari crimes n corruption “democracy”Recommend

  • Mayuresh
    Jul 18, 2015 - 3:18PM

    This headline is created to get clicks. This is the reality of online journalism and quest for click rates. Hope noone from India rejoices. India’s figures are abysmal and need to be quickly improved. It does not matter whether pakistan is double it or 10 times. Each % refers to hundreds of thousands of children which is shamefulRecommend

  • Peace
    Jul 18, 2015 - 6:12PM

    Please don’t make this a ind vs Pakistan thing. The children look so sad, it’s devastating. Children should not suffer because of Society’s failures. We need to protect them. I am beyond sad reading this……:-(Recommend

  • Amit Lunia
    Jul 18, 2015 - 6:29PM

    dear author

    take better examples, the data is something even we are not proud of, both need to improve tremendouslyRecommend

  • Indian doctor
    Jul 18, 2015 - 10:54PM

    Well india progress in reducing IMR And U5MR, because of concurrent effects of both government and doctors…. We have better practice guidelines at obg and pedestric departments…. we are noticing body warmer even at phc, nowadays…. this is also because of our proactive media, which is very strong…. We have a target of IMR 3%…., Hope we achieve it soon…. By the way U5MR is regarded as best indicators of economic progress….Recommend

  • curious2
    Jul 19, 2015 - 7:03PM

    It’s a bi product of the decision to “eat grass”. Pakistan chooses nukes, submarines and cruise missiles rather than clean drinking water, toilets, sewers, vaccinations etc. India suffers from the same poor decision making – is just fortunate that their terrible statistics aren’t as bad as Pakistan.Recommend

  • Naresh
    Jul 19, 2015 - 9:09PM

    @Soofia Malik: Anyone with a bit of common sense can see through this indian propaganda using cooked figures. We all know their sanitation and slum problems are the worst in the region so how can their figures be true?
    All Posters purportring to doubting this figures and also attributing them to Indian Propoganda I quote the following from the Article :
    according to a report issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

  • Gp65
    Jul 20, 2015 - 6:03AM

    India’s numbers are no grounds for complacency. Pakistan’s numbers provide no satisfaction – after all we are talking about kids dying before they lived.

    Having said that, I hope that those Pakistanis who are ready to taunt India about its poverty whenever it launches a space satellite or whenever there is news about any defense achievement, will pause and recognize that despite all India’s challenges, it invests more in its socioeconomic sectors than Pakistan and Encourage powers that be in Pakistan to direct some of the money spent on defense to health and education. After all, Pakistan spends more on defense than education and health put together. In India education budget is twice that of defense budget.Recommend

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