‘3 infants die every 2 min in India’

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

India, All India

Over 8,00,000 infants died in India in 2017, highest in the world, claims UN report.

The next step would be reducing the number of deaths,” he said. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi:In India, three infants die every two minutes on an average because of lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services. A startling revelation indeed.

If this is not shocking enough, then just have a look at another fact: About 8,02,000 infant deaths were reported in India in 2017, the lowest in five years, but the infant death numbers still remained the highest in the world.

These are just some of the factoids which have been enumerated in a report by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME).

Dr Gagan Gupta, Chief of Health at the World Health Organization, however, said India is making good progress in combatting reasons leading to infant deaths through a number of government-led initiatives.

“It has to be taken into consideration that India has a birth rate of 25 million every year and the number of infant deaths have come down and is lowest in five years. This is also the first time that the number of deaths under five is equal to number of births. The next step would be reducing the number of deaths,” he said.

“About 18 per cent of children born globally are from India,” he added. The main reasons behind infant deaths remain to be lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services, Dr Gupta said. Infant deaths were reported highest in the world in India, followed by Nigeria at 4,66,000, Pakistan 3,30,000 and Democratic Republic of Congo 2,33,000 (DRC), the report said. The UNIGME report further elaborates that 6,05,000 neonatal deaths were reported in India in 2017, while the number of deaths among children aged 5-14 was 1,52,000. “India continues to show impressive decline in child deaths, with its share of global under-five deaths for the first time equalling its share of childbirths,” Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative, UNICEF India, said. “The efforts for improving institutional delivery, along with countrywide scale up of special newborn care units and strengthening of routine immunisation, have been instrumental towards this,” she said.

The number of infant deaths has come down from 8.67 lakh in 2016 to 8.02 lakh in 2017. In 2016, India’s infant mortality rate was 44 per 1,000 live births. In 2017, sex-specific under-five mortality rate was 39 in 1,000 live births for male and 40 in 1,000 live births for females.

“Even more heartening is the fourfold decline in the gender gap in survival of the girl child over the last five years,” Ms Haque said.