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North Korea mortality rates are declining, U.N. group says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea mortality rates are declining, U.N. group says
A North Korean woman rides a bike on the banks of the Yalu River near Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. North Korea has improved hospital services since 2008, leading to a decline in mortality rates, according to a new U.N. report. Photo by Stephen Shaver | License Photo

SEOUL, June 1 (UPI) -- Infant mortality rate has decreased significantly in North Korea since 2008, according to a new United Nations report.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that North Korea's infant mortality rate for children under the age of 5 stood at 20 children per 1,000, Voice of America reported.

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The mortality rate for the group has been steadily declining. The number went from 26.7 in 2008, dropping to 25.6 in 2010 then to 22.7 in 2012, according to the report.

For North Korean children age 1 and under the mortality rate also began a downward trend from 2008, when the number stood at 19.3 per 1,000, dropping to 18.8 in 2010, then to 16.7 in 2012 and 14.2 in 2014.

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The U.N. agency attributed the improvements to the launch of telemedicine services in North Korea in 2011.

According to the report, Pyongyang's Okryu Children's Hospital has used long-distance connections to link to regional hospitals, and the technology has played an important role in reducing child mortality rates.

Maternal mortality rates have dropped precipitously as well.

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The rate, which was reported at 85.1 for 2008, dropped to 76 in 2010, 68.1 in 2012, then to 62.7 in 2014, the U.N. organization stated.

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But U.N. estimates on the mortality rates differ slightly from World Bank data, which paint a less rosy picture.

According to the 2016 edition of the World Development Indicators issued in April, 25 North Korean children under the age of 5 died per 1,000 in 2015, and 82 expectant mothers per 100,000 died in 2015 during childbirth.

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