News / Health

Q&A with Kathryn Bolles: Best Places to be a Mother

FILE - An unnamed teenager holds her son at the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women in Bangkok.
FILE - An unnamed teenager holds her son at the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women in Bangkok.
Frances Alonzo
The 15th annual issue of State of the World's Mothers report by Save the Children focuses on saving mothers and children whose lives are at risk in times of crisis. Of the over 150 countries reviewed, Singapore at number 15 ranks as the top country in Asia to be a mother. Kathryn Bolles, the Senior Director for Health and Nutrition for Save the Children, tells VOA's Frances Alonzo that there is quite a disparity in the region among Asian countries.
 
Q&A with Kathryn Bolles: Best Places to be a Mother
Q&A with Kathryn Bolles: Best Places to be a Motheri
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

BOLLES: We looked at 178 countries, looking at the best places in the world to be a mom and the toughest places. And so when we look at Asia, we see that Singapore tops the list and is actually ranked 15th in the overall ranking. Falling at the bottom of the list in Asia we have Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Myanmar, and North Korea.
 
One thing that is important to recognize too, is [that] there are disparities within countries. And so we might see in a country like India, for example, some areas that are doing quite well. But then there are pockets that are underperforming, meaning there’s not as much access to quality health care for all mothers and children in some parts versus others. So even though we speak about national rankings, we also want to recognize there are real differences in one section or one ethnic group from another.
 
ALONZO: You list Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China among the top five Asian countries as being the better places to be a mother. What are those countries doing that have them at the top of the list for Asia? 
 
BOLLES: There are a few countries in Asia that have made incredible advances over the last few years. And some are actually surprising: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal. Some of the countries who are going through significant conflict and have incredible challenges that they have faced over the last few years that have also been doing quite well. An example of that is Afghanistan, actually Bangladesh as well, over the last few years [they] have cut their maternal death rates in half, and in fact, in Afghanistan, by two-thirds. China has cut their maternal mortality rate almost in half. And so what that means is that these countries are making investments in quality health care, and not just for some mothers and children, but setting policy that allows all women and children to have more access to care.
 
I highlight Afghanistan in particular as a country that despite being in an humanitarian crisis, which is the focus of this year’s report, Afghanistan has made significant investments that have saved lives, like changing policies in girls education, like training and deploying midwives so that moms around the country - even if they can’t get to a healthcare facility - can deliver their babies with a skilled attendant.
 
ALONZO: What is it that Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China doing that is really putting them at the top of the list?
 
BOLLES: Singapore, China, Bangladesh, Japan, Nepal - these are examples of countries that have made particular investments in women focused policies. They have more women in political power, more women are representatives at a national level, and more women are educated. So, these are some of the indicators. The reason we looked at these kinds of indicators in the report is because these really do showcase a story to tell about the health and well-being of a mother and her family. More women that are educated, more ability to make decisions at a local and a national level, greater investment in health of a woman and a child and greater household economic status; all of those are investments that Singapore and China, and some of the higher ranking countries in Asia have made. And we see that’s what places them at the top of the list.
 
ALONZO: Has there been an Asian country that just slowly, slowly, year after year, incrementally improving the situation for mothers?
 
BOLLES: Nepal would be the example I would choose of a country that has over the last decade, as you say, incrementally made changes beginning at the local level and then resulting in national level policy change that has shown how investments save lives. Nepal began to employ some of these very simple solutions. And when I say simple, I’m talking about wrapping and warming a baby, and training women volunteers to talk to mothers about how to prevent illness and death in their babies.
 
And over the years, we have seen changes such that the Nepali government said this needs to be policy. We need to have this practiced all over our country. And in fact, other countries are starting to look to Nepal for those kinds of answers. So, infant mortality has declined significantly. And Nepal really tells the story of that. And I think that when we look at it, even with a country that doesn’t have a lot of resources available, some of these solutions are incredibly simple and low cost. But having the highest levels of government support them, require them is what’s saving lives.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid