Vietnam has dropped four spots, from 92nd last year to 96th this year, on the ranking of best countries for children.

The ranking, covering 175 countries and territories, considers several indicators including infant mortality, malnourishment, school drop outs, incidence of child labor and child marriage, rate of teens giving birth and child victims of violence.

Vietnam’s slide in the rankings was caused by children not getting adequate nutrition.

As many as 24.6 percent of children under five years old in Vietnam were severely malnourished in 2012-2017, the highest ratio of all the indicators, according to the 2018 End of Childhood Index Rankings released by Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization that promotes children's rights. The index incorporate factors that “force children to grow too soon, such as early pregnancy, extreme violence and living poverty.”

Vietnam had 26 million children as of last year, according to official data.

The top ranking this year is shared by Singapore and Slovenia, followed by Norway and Sweden in the second position. Nigeria arrives last.

The rate of stunting malnutrition in Vietnam has dropped by only half from 59.7 percent to 26 percent in the last 30 years, Le Bach Mai, a doctor from the National of Institute of Nutrition, said at a meeting in September last year.

She said even today, the daily meals of Vietnamese children between 2 and 11 lack important nutrients like vitamins A and D, calcium, iron and zinc.

The World Health Organization in 2016 listed Vietnam in the 20 countries with the highest number of stunted children.

About 25 percent of Vietnamese children, or 1.9 million of them, are on average 10 centimeters shorter than their Asian peers due to malnourishment.

By Minh Nga - VnExpress.net - June 1, 2018