The state records 37,571 U5MR deaths per year and 23,277 NB deaths per year.
Pune: To tackle malnutrition and resulting deaths in the tribal belt, the family health welfare (FHW) department will provide house-based Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) bags to low birth weight (LBW) and pre-term (PT) babies and babies that need attention.
KMC refers to the practice of providing continuous skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastfeeding and early discharge from hospital.
The FHW department will distribute these bags in 16 tribal dominated districts of the state — Palghar, Gadchiroli, Nandurbar, Chandrapur, Nashik and Dhule among others — by the end of this year or January 2020.
Dr Prashant Bharati, head of pediatrics, FHW, said, “KMC has resulted in decreasing mortality and morbidity among newborns (NBs). Ten to 20 per cent NBs in the tribal belt are either PT or LBW.
“Family members of babies in the Special New Born Unit (SNBI) or Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will be given counseling in various breastfeeding positions and feeding with KMC.”
Dr Bharati added that for non-institutionalised deliveries, the department is likely to send Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers to identify PT or LBW babies in tribal hamlets. Moreover, the department is also mulling contacting local healers to get information on sick babies.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2016, under-five mortality rate (U5MR) in Maharashtra is 21, Neo Natal Mortality Rate (NMR) is 13, and IMR (infant till one year) is 19. The state records 37,571 U5MR deaths per year and 23,277 NB deaths per year. In fact, the mortality rate is the second highest among the tribal population.
“NB deaths can be averted to a large extent by taking care of small and sick babies. And it is proven that KMC gives prolonged skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. Other family members can also take care of the baby with KMC. In low-income groups, they cannot afford expensive NB care and KMC is the best and cheapest way,” said Dr Khanindra Bhuyan, UNICEF health consultant.