According to experts, the most immediate impact of the environmental situation in Uzbekistan is on the health condition of the population (see Environmental Problems, this ch.). Although it is difficult to establish a direct cause and effect between environmental problems and their apparent consequences, the cumulative impact of these environmental problems in Uzbekistan appears to have been devastating. Frequently cited in Uzbekistan's press are increasing occurrences of typhoid, paratyphoid, and hepatitis from contaminated drinking water; rising rates of intestinal disease and cancers; and increased frequency of anemia, dystrophy, cholera, dysentery, and a host of other illnesses. One Russian specialist includes among the ailments "lag in physical development," especially among children. According to this observer, sixty-nine of every 100 adults in the Aral Sea region are deemed to be "incurably ill." In 1990 life expectancy for males in all of Uzbekistan was sixty-four years, and for females, seventy years. The average life span in some villages near the Aral Sea in Karakalpakstan, however, is estimated at thirty-eight years.
In the early 1990s, only an estimated 30 percent of women in Uzbekistan practiced contraception of any kind. The most frequently used method was the intrauterine device, distribution of which began in a government program introduced in 1991. In 1991 the average fertility rate was 4.1 children per woman, but about 200,000 of the women in the childbearing age range have ten or more children.
Infant mortality increased by as much as 49 percent between 1970 and 1986 to an average of 46.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 1990 the average rate of mortality before age one for the entire country was sixty-five deaths per 1,000 live births. In the mid-1990s, official data estimated the level of infant mortality in parts of Karakalpakstan at 110 per 1,000 live births; unofficial estimates put the level at twice that figure. In 1992 the national maternal mortality rate was 65.3 per 100,000 live births, with considerably higher rates in some regions.
According to the WHO, Uzbekistan reported one case of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1992, one in 1993, and none in 1994. No treatment centers or AIDS research projects are known to exist in Uzbekistan.
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