In Thailand as anywhere, inequality affects whose children will die: study

Photo: Honey Kochphon Onshawee
Photo: Honey Kochphon Onshawee

Enter the world about five hours east of Bangkok, and your chances of living past 5 are slightly better than those born five hours west and north.

The 19.6 child mortality rate of Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhla Buri was five-times higher than that of Buriram’s Ban Kruat district (4.5), a discrepancy underscored in what’s billed as the first study to map child deaths at a district level. It found that while far fewer Thai children are dying now, their chances at survival vary from place to place, and communities with lower survival rates two decades ago still struggle with them today.

Still, strides have been made. The data show just over 5,800 children in Thailand died before turning 5 in 2017, roughly 70% fewer than the 18,509 who died in 2000.

The data does not shed light on why babies born in impoverished Buriram province would fare better than those of Kanchanaburi. But all of it has been made into an interactive, if morbid, map that allows users to see how children have fared around the world since 2000.

The study, published last week in Nature, was conducted by the University of Washington and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Child mortality rates per 1,000 births in Thailand in 2000 and 2017. Image: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington
Child mortality rates per 1,000 births in Thailand in 2000 and 2017. Image: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington

Related:

Drowning remains leading cause of death for Thai children during school holidays

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