Infant mortality rate reduced, India achieves MDG target

NEW DELHI: In an important public health feat, India has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on infant mortality, reaching the listed target of reducing infant deaths by two-third between 1990 and 2015.

editorial@tribune.com

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 15

In an important public health feat, India has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on infant mortality, reaching the listed target of reducing infant deaths by two-third between 1990 and 2015.

The latest government data on child health indicators shows that India’s Infant Mortality Rate (number of infants per 1,000 live births who died in the first year of their birth) is now at 39 per 1,000 live births as against 40 the previous year.

The statistics from the latest round of Sample Registration Survey (SRS), the most comprehensive data set on child health, reveal that India is also set to achieve the MDG on under-five mortality by the next year. India’s current under-five mortality is 45 per 1,000 live births and the MDG target is 42.

Dr Vinod Paul, Head of Pediatrics at AIIMS and someone who is closely associated with the government’s child health survey, told The Tribune today: “This is a proud moment for India. We have already attainted the IMR MDG goal of 39 per 1,000 live births and are very likely to also reach the MDG goal of reducing under-five child mortality to 42 by next year when we get the Sample Registration Data for the current year. This is a huge achievement.”

The development is significant given the fact that India has the highest burden of child deaths in the world. India alone accounts for 22 per cent of 6.3 million annual under-five deaths globally. 

Over half (52 per cent) of under-five deaths here happen at the neonatal stage.

Experts say the recent elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and of polio have helped India’s fight against infant mortality. India’s achievement will also augur well for South East Asia where again it is fuelling the child mortality burden.

According to the WHO, 36 per cent of all neonatal deaths in India are on account of complications associated with premature births; 23 per cent were due to asphyxia at birth and another 23 per cent due to a range of newborn infections, including neonatalsepsis.

In 2014 or instance, only 67 per cent of all births in India were attended by a skilled personnel as against 78 per cent in Myanmar, 100 per cent in Korea and Thailand each and 99 per cent each in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Dr Paul said India had managed to reduce child mortality at a higher average rate than the global. India’s under-five mortality rates between 1990 and 2013 declined much faster than the global average. Under-five mortality globally was 90 per 1,000 live births in 1990 and it was 126 in India.

Today, it is 46 globally and 45 in India. The difference was 36 points in 1990s and is just one point now.

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