SPECIAL REGIONAL CONSIDERATIONS - KAZAKHSTAN
GENERAL HEALTH OF THE POPULATION
Like many countries, Kazakhstan is experiencing a decrease in population. The annual population growth rate from 1970-1990 was 1.2% but this decreased to -0.4% from 1990-2007. Life expectancy on the other hand has risen, from 62 in 1970 to 67 in 2007. Kazakhstan also has one of the world's largest gender gaps in life expectancy. In 2006, according to official statistics, males could expect to live for 59 years, while female life expectancy was 70 years.
In recent years, fueled by oil and gas exports, Kazakhstan's economy grew at a rapid clip, causing poverty rates to fall and enabling substantially increased spending on social programs. However, due to the global economic crisis, most of the country's development goals are far from being achieved. Many of the gains that have been made are now in jeopardy, exacerbating the vulnerability of women and children.
Issues facing children in Kazakhstan:
- HIV/AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate, driven in part by intravenous drug use. Even as the public becomes more informed about the virus, many high-risk groups and young people continue to engage in dangerous behaviors. More babies are being born to HIV-infected mothers, and rates of mother-to-child transmission are increasing.
- Along with infant deaths, maternal mortality remains a serious public health problem. The growing incidence of gynecological diseases, infertility and miscarriages is also attributed to the low use of contraceptives and the practice of induced abortion as a means of family planning.
- Every year, thousands of children - including orphans and children with disabilities - are institutionalized.
- Only 11 per cent of rural children have access to pre-school.
- Only one third of Kazakhstan's 153,000 children with disabilities have access to special education programs.
The infant mortality rate is defined as the probability of dying between birth and exactly one year of age expressed per 1,000 live births. This rate decreased from 51 in 1990 to 28 in 2007. The under 5 mortality rate is defined as the probability of dying between birth and exactly five years of age expressed per 1,000 live births. This rate also decreased from 60 to 32 during the same time period. Six percent of infants were born with low birthweight (less than 2,500 grams) from 2000-2007.
4 UNICEF, Kazakhstan, www.unicef.org/infobycountry/kazakhstan.html