Out of the many questions people from the outside have about Japan, one seems to be more interesting than others – is Japan safe for pregnant women? Or simply put, is Japan a good place to give birth? Japan has hundreds of things to be regarded for, but when it comes to infant mortality rate, it sets a new record. In fact, it beats any other country in the world, including the Scandinavian countries, by being the safest place for newborns.
Pregnancy, although a beautiful thing, is most of the time scary. Despite the modern facilities and technological prowess our societies have, it is still scary for any family to have a baby.
The bitter truth is that we, the humankind, are still far behind in achieving a zero neonatal mortality rate. For every thousand pregnancies or so around the world, tens to hundreds seem to be fatal for the offsprings in the first few weeks that they are born.
Many agencies put the Scandinavian and other European countries as a benchmark, as they usually have a very low mortality rate compared to the rest of the world. When it comes to Asia, only three countries can be comparable to that of the West according to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund); they are Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
Among them, Japan is one country that is leading the way not only in Asia but in the whole world. According to UNICEF, Japan is the safest place on earth for infants as it has the lowest mortality rate of 1 out of every 1,111 births. When put in comparison with Norway, the difference in rate is almost half, which shows that Japan takes this issue way more seriously.
The Japanese population has been declining at a very fast pace over the past decade, the reasons being longer lifespans and a declining birth rate. Despite the governmental push to stop this downward trend, the average birth rate of Japan is still far behind compared to its neighbors. Although a declining population is a sign of a developed society, it also has its side effects such as a stagnant economy, rise of welfare, and so on.
The healthcare system is one sector that will show a rapid growth in countries like Japan, as many people join the senior club. This healthcare sector boost could also help in improving the birth rate in Japan, as modern facilities would make younger couples feel confident and not afraid to go through the process of having a baby. Studies show that more and more young people are hesitant to start families, but improving healthcare conditions and spreading awareness could help.
Many believe that the reason behind Japan’s low mortality rate is its advanced medical facilities that are equally scattered across the country. Also, many people in Japan think that having health insurance and regular medical checkups are necessary.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 10, 2018
“Every Child Alive” is the report released by UNICEF containing the list of the safest and riskiest places to be born. According to the list, the following countries are ranked as the top four safest places to be born (in order): Japan, Iceland, Singapore, and Finland. Iceland comes very close to Japan with just 1 mortality per 1,000 births.
However, the top four riskiest countries to be born are Pakistan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Somalia. In Pakistan, the newborn mortality rate is 45.6 per 1,000 births.
When the report was released, many Japanese Twitter users actually felt sad that Japan is not doing enough to help the less fortunate and developing countries.
Does your country have this neonatal mortality problem? Do you think Japan is setting an example, and thus, being an inspiration to many other countries out there? Check where your country stands here!