UN to award Bangladesh for reducing child mortality

DHAKA (Reuters Life!) - Bangladesh is set to achieve a United Nations award this week for reducing child mortality rate nearly by two-thirds well ahead of the stipulated time-frame, UN officials said on Sunday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will hand over the award to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the UN summit on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York.

Ban convened the summit of the MDGs on the sidelines of the United Nations 65th General Assembly.

The UN set a target of reducing the mortality under-five by two-thirds between 1990-2015. The current child mortality rate in Bangladesh is around 2 percent, health officials said without giving details.

Hasina left Dhaka on Saturday enroute New York to attend the general assembly and the summit on MDGs.

Impoverished Bangladesh has also made good progress in reducing the number of chronically food insecure citizens - from 40 million to 27 million over the last decade, British charity Actionaid said.

“However, partly due to its large population, it still has the third highest number of hungry people in the world, after India and China,” Actionaid said in a statement that made available to Reuters on Sunday.

Bangladesh, the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, harvested a record high rice crop of more than 34.45 million metric tones in the year to June, compared with 34.21 million tones a year ago.

Despite progress in several fields Bangladesh is still struggling for achieving some of the seven other MDGs.

The country has been producing sufficient food to feed its some nearly 160 million people, but it often faces food crunch due to natural calamities, food officials said.

Bangladesh officials said the country, which has no viable threat of HIV/AIDS, had also made progress in imparting education, eliminating gender disparity, reducing poverty, hunger, maternal mortality ratio.

But as a result of high food prices in recent years, the number of Bangladeshis facing food insecurity has risen. Cyclone Aila that killed nearly 1,500 people and damaged huge crops in 2009, has further added to the pressure, Actionaid said.

While the country has improved the nutrition of children under the age of five in the last two decades, it still has a long way to go to combat malnutrition, it said.