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Tajik Child Health : All Hands on Deck
2009-12, Bakilana, Anne, Msisha, Wezi
Promoting and protecting the health of their families is a high priority of households in Tajikistan-half of all households identify health as the aspect of life that is of greatest concern to them. Thirty five percent, or 2.5 million of the total estimated population of 7.2 million people in the country, are under 15 years of age. The median age of the population is just 21.6 years (UN, 2008). Although fertility has fallen in recent years, the total fertility rate remains above three. Thus, policies to improve maternal and child health (MCH) outcomes are central to improving the health of the nation. Tajikistan faces considerable challenges in its quest to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for MCH over the next six years. The fourth MDG target of a two-thirds reduction in child mortality calls for Tajikistan to decrease its current under-five mortality rate (U5MR) of 79 deaths per 1000 live births to less than 30 per 1000, and the current Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 65 deaths per 1000 to under 25 per 1000. Countries with GDP levels similar to Tajikistan have made significantly better progress towards reaching their MDG targets. For instance, IMRs in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Cambodia stand at 52 and 59 deaths per 1000 live births, respectively, compared to 65 per 1000 in Tajikistan. IMRs in neighboring Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic are 38 and 36 per 1000 live births, respectively. Similarly, with child mortality rates of 69 and 41 per 1000 live births respectively, Lao and the Kyrgyz Republic are in a better position than Tajikistan.