Progress in improving health in the poorest countries, but inequalities persist

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Considerable progress has been made in reducing child and maternal deaths, improving nutrition and reducing deaths and illness from HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In its annual World Health statistics publication, WHO also says efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have reduced health gaps between rich and poor countries.

Child mortality in the worst affected countries has declined from 171 deaths in 1990 to 107 deaths per 1000 live births in 2011, while the number of women dying at child birth has declined by more than half from 915 to about 500 deaths per 100 000 live births.

Dr Ties Boerma from WHO, says although health gaps are closing between the developed and developing countries, the situation is far from satisfactory as progress is uneven and large gaps persist between and within countries.

"If you look at child mortality, countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos Madagascar, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Timor-Leste, have come out of the bottom 25. Countries that have not made progress are those who have been in conflict situation. Countries like Chad, or Niger, Somalia. What we do see is that if countries come out of conflict, their progress can be spectacular, like for instance what Rwanda has done but also to a lesser extent a country like Cambodia."

WHO says tuberculosis (TB) deaths have decreased by more than 40% since 1990 and the trend indicates that this will reach 50% by 2015.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1.41″

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