The rate of infant deaths is much higher than that caused by traffic accidents, but the problem has yet to receive the attention it deserves, said Ha Thanh Binh, an official in charge of health and nutrition issues for the Save the Children organization in Vietnam, as quoted by Tuoi Tre Friday.

Save the Children has initiated a campaign to reduce the mortality rate among infants and children, particularly in poor countries like Vietnam, where babies often die by suffocation, contamination or premature delivery.

Neonatal deaths account for nearly 75 percent of all infant deaths in Vietnam, the organization said on its website.

The campaign will include conferences, meetings and demonstrations in Hanoi as well as the nearby Thanh Hoa, Thai Nguyen provinces and Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta.

While Vietnamese society values education with more than 85 percent of children attending lower secondary school, “there is a key gap in the availability of early childhood development services for children under 6 years of age, especially among ethnic minorities,” Save the Children said on its website.

In 1990, the US-based independent organization received an invitation from the Vietnamese government to help address widespread child malnutrition. It has since broadened its focus and now works with youth and local communities in 10 provinces across the country.

By Huong Giang - Thanh Nien News - October 9, 2009