A Unicef report shows that the two states record the highest number of poor and underweight children, and badly in need for qualified doctors.
PUTRAJAYA: Sabah and Kelantan recorded the highest number of poor and undernourished children, a statistical profile by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Malaysian children showed.
The profile which was released today showed that Sabah and Kelantan topped the chart in the percentage of children living in poverty, at 31% and 15% respectively.
The proportion is in stark contrast with the national statistic, which stood at 9% and states like Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Johor where only 2%-4% of their children were poor.
The two states also ranked second and third with about 7% of their children being under-nourished, according to the 2010 statistics. The national rate was about 4.6% but in Sarawak, the proportion is as high as 10.1%.
“We call for urgent protective measures to address the issue,” said Unicef official Roumiana Gantcheva, who was in-charged of drafting the report.
The report revealed the dire need for qualified doctor in Labuan, Sabah, Sarawak and Kelantan.
In 2010, every one doctor in Sabah had to serve 532 children below 15 years old, and every one of that in Kelantan had to serve 501 children. In comparison, every doctor in Kuala Lumpur was serving 78 children only.
Kelantan and Labuan also registered the highest number of children mortality rate, at 12.2% and 12.1% respectively.
“The risk of a new-born child in Kelantan to die before reaching the age of 5 years old is twice higher than the risk of a new-born in Kuala Lumpur.
“The risk of a Malay new-born to die before reaching the age of one year old is twice as high as the risk of a Chinese new-born,” it stated.
The report, however, failed to shed lights on the reason behind the two states’ poor performance in children rights, as Roumiana said further analysis on the data is required.
Child abuse on the rise
Meanwhile, the report showed the number of child abuse cases quadrupled from 934 in year 2000 to 3,831 cases last year.
The risk of a girl to fall victim to child abuse is twice as high as a boy, Roumiana noted.
She said while the increase may be partly due to improved reporting, the gender gap remained high over time.
“The proportions of neglect and sexual abuse increased over the time, which we call for further researches and policy-maker to look into the issues, especially on the disturbing trends,” she said.