The unfinished health agenda: Neonatal mortality in Cambodia

Type Journal Article - PloS one
Title The unfinished health agenda: Neonatal mortality in Cambodia
Volume 12
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Background: Reduction of neonatal and under-five mortality rates remains a primary target in the achievement of universal health goals, as evident in renewed investments of Sustainable Development Goals. Various studies attribute declines in mortality to the combined effects of improvements in health care practices and changes in socio-economic factors. Since the early nineties, Cambodia has managed to evolve from a country devastated by war to a nation soon to enter the group of middle income countries. Cambodia's development efforts are reflected in some remarkable health outcomes such as a significant decline in child mortality rates and the early achievement of related Millennium Development Goals. An achievement acknowledged through the inclusion of Cambodia as one of the ten fast-track countries in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. This study aims to highlight findings from the field so to provide evidence for future programming and policy efforts. It will be argued that to foster further advances in health, Cambodia will need to keep neonatal survival and health high on the agenda and tackle exacerbating inequities that arise from a pluralistic health system with considerable regional differences and socio-economic disparities.

Methods/Findings: Data was drawn from Demographic Health Surveys (2000, 2005, 2010, 2014). Information on a series of demographic and socio-economic household characteristics and on child anthropometry, feeding practices and child health were collected from nationally representative samples. To reach the required sample size, live-births that occurred over the past 10 years before the date of the interview were included. Demographic variables included: gender of the child, living area (urban or rural; four ecological regions (constructed by merging provinces and the capital), mother’s age at birth (<20, 20–35, 35+), birth interval (long, short) and birth order (1st, 2–3, 4–6, 7+). Socio-economic variables included: mother education level (none, primary, secondary+) and household wealth (asset-based index). Data on antenatal care, tetanus injection and skilled assistance at birth were used for the mother's last child.

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