North Korea’s infant mortality rate is eight times higher than that of South Korea, a report by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed Tuesday.
Three out of 4 infants in the North do not get proper nutrition, leading to the high mortality rate, said Cho Sung-eun, the head of KIHASA’s Center for Reunified Korea Social Security, calling for urgent support measures.
Citing the World Health Organization, the report said that 24 out of 1,000 North Korean infants die, while the rate for South Korea is 3 out of 1,000 infants.
The report added that North Korean infants and children are more prone to illnesses due to poor social infrastructure and limited medical services, resulting in the high mortality rate.
One-quarter of the population in North Korea does not have access to essential health services, and 1.7 million children are at risk of deadly childhood diseases, the report went on to say, citing data.
The South Korean government’s support for North Korean infants and children has plunged since 2008, when its Sunshine Policy ended. The policy had led to closer relations between the two Koreas.
The report highlighted the lack of food aid from the South Korean government since 2012, as 77 percent of the South’s support was related to basic medical aid, 12 percent food aid and 6 percent water supply and sanitation.
Cho highlighted the need to increase aid for North Korean infants and children to improve their nutrition and health. He stressed that the aid should not be affected by inter-Korean relations.
By Chyung Eun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org