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Infant Deaths in India

  Aug 05, 2020

Infant Deaths in India

Discuss the status of infant deaths in India. 

  1. According to a UNICEF estimate on January 1, 2020, an estimated 67,385 babies were born in India!
  2. It 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.
  3. At the same time India witnesses the death of an estimated 2,350 babies per day aged less than one year. 
  4. It varies from state to state. For example In 2017, the infant mortality rate in Gujarat was 30 per 1,000 live births. This means the state sees about 36,000 deaths a year, or an average 98 a day.
  5. Similarly this data is 172 are from Rajasthan.
  6. In 2014, of every 1,000 children born in the country, 39 did not see their first birthday. 
  7. Today, that figure has come down to 33. It means that the infant mortality rate today is 33.
  8. WIth all these facts, it is clear that India has the most child deaths in the world. In 2017, UNICEF estimated 8,02,000 babies had died in India.
  9. If state wise IMRis taken, in Rajasthan it dropped from 46 per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 38, and in Gujarat from 35 to 30. 
  10. 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 are the reasons for so many infants die in India every year? What measures are being taken to save infants during birth?

  1. 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. 
  2. According to a UNICEF factsheet on child mortality in India, Children born to mothers with at least 8 years of schooling have 32% lesser chances of dying in neonatal period and 52% lesser chances in the post-neonatal period, as compared to the illiterate mothers. 
  3. It also notes that infant and under-five mortality rates are highest among mothers under age 20. The rates are lowest among children born to mothers between the ages of 20-24, remain low up to 25-34, and increase again after that age.
  4. According to the National Family Health Survey-4, only 78.9% births in India happen in a facility. This means 21.1% or about 54 lakh births in a year still happen outside of a facility where hygiene levels can be low, sometimes without the help of a trained health worker. 
  5. Apart from the obvious infection risks in a non-institutional birth, vaccine compliance too is usually worse in these cases. According to the Health Ministry, the vaccination cover in India after several rounds of Intensified Mission Indradhanush (MI) and the original MI, now stands at 87%. This means over 33 lakh children continue to miss out on some or all vaccinations every year.

Measures in place for the protection of sick newborns?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. According to officials, approximately 1 million children are admitted to the 996 SNCUs in the country every year with an average death rate of 10%.