Saturday, December 1, 2012

Infant Mortality Rate in India is on decline, but still more to be done

The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of a population is the number of children dying before celebrating their first birth day out of one thousand number of children born. 
As per ORGI’s Sample Registration System’s Statistical Reports, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) across the country had declined to 44 in 2011 from 58 in 2005, the year when National Rural Health Mission was launched.
While 15 states or Union Territories out of 35 states have achieved the expected/targeted level of IMR of 30.  The states having IMR falling in the range (30, 44] are thirteen states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Empowered Action Group (EAG) States (Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand), Gujarat, Haryana, , Karnataka, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Mizoram, and Dadar & Nagar Haveli and the remaining seven states/UTs have IMR above 44 and these are: Assam, five EAG States (Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) and Meghalaya.  
The highest IMR for any state/UT is for Madhya Pradesh (59) followed by Odisha (57) and Uttar Pradesh (57).
The Government has already addressing the issue through State Governments in mission mode by having National Rural Health Mission.  The Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is one of the most important programmes under the overall umbrella of National Rural Health Mission by the Government of India and is aimed at reducing Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) and Neo-natal Mortality Rate by promoting institutional deliveries. Under the Scheme, cash incentives are provided to mothers and they are facilitated by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) (the name is different in some of the states like Rajasthan it is known by the name Sahyogini) to deliver their babies in a health facility. There are also provisions for cost reimbursement for transport and incentives to ASHAs for encouraging mothers to opt for institutional delivery. The scheme is fully sponsored by the Central Government and is implemented in all States and Union Territories, with special focus on low-performing States like EAG states where the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and MMR are the highest in the country. Thus, seeing above much more focus should be given to the above mentioned five EAG States, Assam and Meghalaya (north eastern states).  For the other above thirteen listed states, three being EAG states, where still the IMR is more than the targeted value of 30 need to be addressed by strengthening the implementation of already existing JSY programme. As about two-third of infants die within first four weeks and quite many are vulnerable in the very first week of their life, they need much more care particularly during the first week after delivery.  For the mothers and/or children who have some kind of illness or complications at the time of delivery, they need to be taken care more and should be kept in the hospital/health institution for more number of days just after the delivery than the normal period of the stay post delivery.

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