Every day, India witnesses the death of an estimated 2,350 babies aged less than one year. Among them, an average 172 are from Rajasthan and 98 from Gujarat. In 2014, of every 1,000 children born in the country, 39 did not see their first birthday. Today, that figure has come down to 33. That is 1,56,000 fewer deaths every year. In 2017, UNICEF estimated 8,02,000 babies had died in India.
How high are the mortality numbers?
The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country currently stands at 33 per 1,000 live births. This means babies numbering in the region of 8,50,000 die every year in India, or an average daily toll to 2,350.
Do Gujarat and Rajasthan have the highest infant mortality?
No. Between 2014 and 2017, India’s IMR has declined by 15.4%. At a decline rate of 17.4%, Rajasthan has been ahead of the national average in reducing IMR while Gujarat has a decline rate of 14.3%. The IMR in Rajasthan dropped from 46 per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 38, and in Gujarat from 35 to 30. In 2017, states such as Arunachal Pradesh (42), Madhya Pradesh (47), Assam (44), Uttar Pradesh (41), Meghalaya (39), Odisha (41) and Chhattisgarh (38) had a higher IMR than Gujarat and Rajasthan. Arunachal, Tripura and Manipur have recorded a negative reduction rate between 2014 and 2017, which means child death rates there have gone up. In Arunachal it went up from 30 to 42, in Tripura from 21 to 29 and in Manipur from 11 to 12.
Why do so many infants die in India every year?
On January 1, 2020, according to a UNICEF estimate, India, with an estimated 67,385 babies born that day, accounted for 17% of the estimated 392,078 births globally. This is higher than the 46,299 babies born in China that day, the 26,039 born in Nigeria and 16,787 born in Pakistan.
Among the factors that have been proved detrimental to child survival are lack of education in the mother, malnutrition (more than half of Indian women are anaemic), age of the mother at the time of birth, spacing, and whether the child is born at home or in a facility.
What measures are in place for sick newborns?
Special newborn care units (SNCUs) have been established at district hospitals and sub-district hospitals with an annual delivery load more than 3,000 to provide care for sick newborns: that is, all type of neonatal care except assisted ventilation and major surgeries. It is a separate unit in close proximity to the labour room with 12 or more beds, and managed by adequately trained doctors, staff nurses and support staff to provide 24×7 services.
Source: The Indian Express
Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper I; Social Issues