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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs