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28145: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Child Mortality (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 22 (AP) -- One in eight children will likely die
before age 5 in Haiti, the highest child mortality rate in the Western
Hemisphere, UNICEF said in a report Wednesday.
   Preventable disease, malnutrition, environmental decay and violence are
among the main reasons why 117 children out every 1,000 will die before
their fifth birthday in this impoverished Caribbean nation, according to
the report.
   "There are few more challenging places to have a healthy childhood than
Haiti," said Adriano Gonzalez-Regueral, a representative for the United
Nations Children Fund in Haiti, in a statement.
   In Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti accounts for 2 percent of all
births but nearly 20 percent of deaths for children under 5, the report
   The report blamed many deaths on low immunization for infectious
diseases. Only slightly more than half of children are vaccinated for
measles in Haiti, a rate lower than sub-Saharan Africa.
   The report also said Haiti's massive deforestation had contributed to
more deaths among children during the Atlantic hurricane season. Storms
killed some 3,000 people in Haiti in 2004, including hundreds of children
living in low-lying communities of flimsy tin-and-wood shacks.
   In addition, many children fall victim to gang violence, which exploded
in the slums of the capital of Port-au-Prince after a bloody revolt ousted
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
   President-elect Rene Preval, expected to take power in May, has pledged
to place homeless children in school.
   UNICEF also said it was sponsoring programs to boost immunization,
improve nutrition and purify water in Haiti, the poorest nation in the
Western Hemisphere.