Infant mortality in India: Over 3 lakh die within 24 hours of taking birth
CB Bureau May 7, 2013
Every year, lack of political will and funding for crisis kills over three lakh infants within a day (24 hours) of being born in India, a says a recently released report State of the World's Mothers.
The crux of this 14th annual report by Save the Children is that there is nothing that is not avertable as the main reasons for deaths in majority of cases are infections and other preventable causes.
The disturbing numbers in the report say that 29 per cent of the newborn deaths worldwide happen only in India. The report, published after survey of 186 countries, says that South Asia (with 24 per cent of the world's population) records 40 per cent of the world's first-day deaths.
"Progress has been made, but more than 1,000 babies die every day on their first day of life from preventable causes throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh," said Mike Novell, the regional director, Save the Children.
The organization identified three major causes of newborn deaths – complications during birth, prematurity and infections – and said access to low-cost life-saving interventions could cut down the figures by as much as 75 per cent. "What is lacking is the political will and funding to deliver these solutions to all the mothers and babies who need them," read the statement by the charity.
Although the spending on poor and rural communities has seen a substantial rise in the last decade through various developmental schemes, most such programmes have not benefited those who need them the most. As a result, more than half of all Indian women give birth without the help of skilled health professionals, leading to infections and complications. In remote areas of the country, doctors and hospitals are rare, so health of children in those areas is in the hands of poorly trained substitutes.
In a Times of India news published today, Sharmila Lal, a Delhi-based gynaecologist, claimed that even in cities such as New Delhi that has relatively better healthcare facilities women are delivering at home. Despite hospitals being near at hand, the women are having babies at home in a highly unsafe and unhygienic environment primarily because of lack of awareness said Lal.
As per Save the Children, infant mortality can be addressed by closing the equity gap in a developing country like India where economic benefits have been shared unequally. “If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year,” it said.