Ninety four percent of Yemeni children vulnerable to violence [Archives:2008/1206/Health]

November 10 2008

Mahmoud Assamiee
Nearly 94 percent of Yemeni children aged between two and 14 years old are subject to psychological or physical violence from their parents or guardians, according to the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by Ministry of Public Health and Population in September 2006.

The results of the survey, which took place over a period of 21 days, were made public at a workshop held last month. They show that 82 percent of these children are subjected to physical punishments, of whom 44 percent were boys and 38 percent were girls.

The survey shows that 25 percent of children aged between 2-9 years are affected with at least one type of disability, the more widespread being delayed motor skills and slow cognitive development in that order.

The results also reveal that early education in Yemen is rare as only 3 percent of children aged between 3 and 5 years old attend early education institutions and only 40 percent of children attend first grade of elementary school when they are six years old.

Up to 68 percent of children aged from 6 to 14 attend elementary school, of which 76 percent are boys and 60 percent are girls. On average, only 24 percent of adolescents aged between 15 and 17 years old attend secondary school, with 32 percent for boys and 15 for girls.

As for illiteracy among mothers, the health ministry's survey shows that on average 35 percent of married Yemeni women aged between 15 and 24 are literate, with 59 percent of married women in urban areas and 26 percent of married women in rural areas being able to read and write.

The study, which involved 4,000 families across the country, reveals that only 22 percent of children under the age of 5 years of age were registered at birth. The widespread reason for this low statistic was the unawareness of the importance of obtaining a birth certificate for one's child.

With regards to vaccination, around 38 percent of children aged between 12 and 23 months old had been completely vaccinated during the period the survey took place, and that 18 percent of them have received all vaccinations before reaching one year of age.

The study reveals that 34 percent of children aged under five years old had diarrhea during the first two weeks of the survey, of which nine out of ten children have received oral re-hydration salts to help them get better.

In the same period, 13 percent of under-fives were suffering from acute respiratory tract infection. Dangers of the infection in Yemen have increased due to the use of solid cooking fuel, which is used by 30 percent of families in urban areas and 52 percent in rural areas.

The mortality rate for children under five years old in Yemen decreased from 102 per 1000 during the five years before the survey to 78 per 1000 cases after conducting the survey.

The results of the survey also reveal that the mortality rate among newborns has dropped to 37 per 1000 in comparison to 69 per 1000 during the five years before the survey. Fifty percent of newborn mortality in Yemen occurs during the first month of age, which means that nearly one child in 15 dies before reaching one year of age.

Conducted upon directions of the World Health Organization (WHO) toward achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals, the study indicated that 28 percent of married women use contraceptives or birth-control and 47 percent of women receive health care during pregnancy, but only 24 of them deliver at health centers.

The results show that the fertility rate in Yemen is 5.2 deliveries to every woman. They show that the fertility rate in rural areas is higher than that in urban areas, with 6 children per woman in rural areas and 4 children per mother in urban areas.

The survey also reveals that 59 percent of Yemenis use improved water resources -74 percent in urban areas and 52 percent in rural areas- and that 52 percent of Yemenis live in houses with improved sanitation facilities, while 31 percent lack this basic service.

Similar surveys that have been carried out in 50 countries across the world with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Arab League's Pan Arab Project for Family Health.