Policy for the Health Sector
Asian Development Bank | February 1999
Health conditions in the Asian and Pacific region have dramatically improved over the last 35 years. The under-five mortality rate declined 60 percent, the most rapid rate of decline observed in its history. Improved health status has been accompanied by a 47 percent decline in the total fertility rate. Despite the impressive progress, there is much more that needs to be accomplished. Infant mortality rates (IMRs), particularly in South Asia, are higher than in any other region in the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is home to more than 75 percent of the malnourished children in the world. The poor, women, and indigenous peoples bear a disproportionate burden of this ill health. The poorest-income quintile suffers an IMR that is about 2.8 times higher than the wealthiest quintile, and the poor face more grave economic consequences as a result of being sick. Almost half of the financial crises faced by the poor arise from meeting medical expenses. Women also face a high burden of disease as witnessed by high maternal mortality ratios that have changed little in the last 20 years. In most countries, indigenous peoples suffer an infant mortality rate that is about twice that of the general population. Despite progress in making modern contraception available to couples, there are still countries and regions with such high fertility as to interfere with their economic and social development. In addition, there is a rapid increase occurring in the prevalence of smoking, HIV/AIDS, and use of illegal drugs.
CitationAsian Development Bank. 1999. Policy for the Health Sector. © Asian Development Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/6237.
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