16 Nov 2009

Marshalls reports shows death rate high where immunisation is low

4:32 pm on 16 November 2009

The Marshall Islands chief planner has described the rate of death among babies on remote outer islands as a disaster.

He made the comment while issuing two health reports showing the link between low child immunisations and a high infant mortality rate.

Ebeye Island has the best immunisation completion record for two-year old children in the Marshall Islands and also the lowest infant death rate.

The remote outer atolls that have poor immunisation coverage are seeing about one in 12 infants dying annually.

A report issued by the government's Economic Policy, Planning and Statistics Office shows the immunisation completion rate for children born in 2006 on Ebeye Island is 98 percent.

In the capital, the rate is only 66.6 percent.

The report did not address outer island immunisations, but previous reports have pegged immunisation completion levels at 50 percent or less on most remote islands.

About a quarter of the country's population of 53,000 lives in the outer islands.