Neo-natal mortality high in India, says UNICEF

December 10th, 2007 - 8:49 pm ICT by admin  

By Ruchi Gupta
New Delhi, Dec 10 (ANI): Neonatal mortality or death within 28 days of birth is high in India, according to the latest UNICEF report.
According to the UNICEF’s statistical review “Progress for Children-A World Fit for Children,” out of the estimated 2.1 million child-mortality (death of children in their first five years of life) in India, one million are during the neonatal period (within 28 days of birth).
The neonatal deaths could be due to lack of any of the key survival interventions, such as skilled care at birth, initial breastfeeding within one hour of birth, care of low birth weight babies and keeping baby warm.
“One of the cost effective and feasible interventions to improve the situation, include initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth,” the report suggested.
However, malnutrition underlines up to half of under-five deaths globally, followed by neonatal causes in 37 percent of cases, pneumonia (19 pc), diarrhoea (17 pc), malaria (8 pc), measles (four pc), injuries (three pc), AIDS (three pc) and other reasons (10 pc).
Pneumonia kills more children than any other illness - more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Around one in every five under-five children globally die from the disease. India has the largest number of deaths due to pneumonia.
In 2006, for the first time in the world, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday fell below 10 million to 9.7 million, the report said.
India with 2.1 million under-five child deaths, contributes to about 21 percent of the global burden of child deaths.
About 25 percent of children under-five world-over are underweight. One-third of the world’s underweight children in under-five age-group are in India.
The states with the highest number of children underweight are Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, followed by Gujarat, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya.
India has the largest pool of 9.4 million children, who have never been immunised in the world.
A UNICEF representative said, “Immunisation in the 80s and 90s was shining in India. After that it has seen a progressive decline. While in the weaker states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the immunisation programme improved, in the well-performing states, such as Gujarat and Maharashtra they showed a decline. So, the overall decline,”
The representative suggested the need for strengthening the immunisation system, which includes preservation of vaccine at right temperature, distribution of vaccines from the Centre to States, and education of health workers. While safe drinking water is essential for child survival, the world is on the track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on safe drinking water. With 84.5 percent rural and 95 percent urban population having sustainable access to safe drinking water, India is also on the track to meet this goal.
The report acknowledges that progress of India, which is one of the largest countries of the world, is key to achieving the MDGs.
“With 20 per cent of the world’s children under age of five years, India needs at least 20 percent of the world’s attention. And, it is getting it,” said UNICEF India representative Gianni Murzi. (ANI)

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