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S. Korea's child mortality rate drops to one-ninth of N. Korea

All Headlines 10:38 October 31, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's child mortality rate has been nearly halved over the past two decades, but that of North Korea continues to remain high apparently due to the communist state's lack of medicine and medical services, a report showed Monday.

According to the report from the Korea Policy Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea's child mortality rate came to 3.6 in 2014, compared with 7.1 in 1990.

The child mortality rate refers to the number of deaths of children under the age of five per 1,000 births.

North Korea's child mortality rate came to 33.4 in 2014, greatly reduced from 55.6 in 1990 but still 9.3 times higher than that of South Korea, according to the report.

Premature births remained the No. 1 cause of child deaths in both countries, accounting for 33 percent of child deaths in South Korea and 21.9 percent in the communist North.

The second-largest cause of child deaths in South Korea was genetic defects, which accounted for 21.9 percent of the total, followed by post-birth injuries that accounted for 10.3 percent of all child deaths here.

In North Korea, acute respiratory infections were the second-largest cause of child deaths, accounting for 14.9 percent of overall child deaths in 2014 and apparently reflecting the country's lack of adequate medical services and medicine.

For instance, diarrhea accounted for 6.1 percent of all child deaths in North Korea, while only 0.6 percent of deaths in South Korea had been caused by the disease, according to the report.

The report also showed South Korea's infant mortality rate, the number of deaths of infants under the age of one per 1,000 births, stood at 3.0 in 2014, one-eighth of North Korea's 26.4.

North Korea claims to provide free medical services to all its population.

However, the report said a quick improvement to the North's child mortality rate may be far off due to the country's lack of medicine and malnutrition of children, as well as pregnant women.

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