Maternal and Child Health

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Turning the Tide

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Times of India
19 May 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Better Healthcare, Hospital Dirths Lower Infant Deaths in State
Eighty–Two Per Cent Of Total Deliveries In 2009–10 Was In Hospitals Which Brought Down Infant Mortality
Turning the Tide
More infants in Maharashtra are living beyond their first year now than they were a decade ago. A better healthcare system that reaches the grassroots and more babies being born in hospitals have helped cut back the rate.

Infant mortality is down by almost one–third over the last decade, state government data on infant mortality released recently said. It was 31 in 2009, down by 32%, when compared to a decade ago when it was 45 per 1,000 live births. The latest Sample Registration Survey (SRS) report released by the Census Office in New Delhi supported the state government's data.

“The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country, which is an important indicator of human development, declined in 2009. Maharashtra has been able to reduce its IMR by onethird,” Uddhav Gavande, deputy director of the state health services, said. Infant mortality is measured as a number of babies dying before they reach one year of age for every 1,000 live births. It is an important indicator of both the health status of people and availability of health infrastructure.

“The reduction is because healthcare delivery system is reaching the grassroots. Besides, the rate of institutional deliveries where the baby is born in the hospital has increased over the last ten years,” Gavande said. The proportion of institutional deliveries in Maharashtra has gone up.

In 2009–2010, the proportion of institutional deliveries was 82 % of the total births. It was 66 % in 2005–2006 as per the third round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

&“Almost three–fourths of the infant deaths occur within the first four weeks of life. Within neonatal mortality rate (deaths of children within the first four weeks of life), almost three–fourth of the deaths occur within the first week of life. They are called early neonatal mortality rate (ENMR) which accounts for half the IMR,” said Prakash Doke, former executive director of State Health Systems Resource Centre – a branch of state health services which has prepared the report– ‘Health Status 2010’.

“This highlights the need to initiate effective interventions targeting the neonatal period, and especially the early neonatal period, to further reduce the IMR," said senior gynaecologist Charuchandra Joshi, president of Pune Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society (POGS).

SRS report survey covered a sample of 15 lakh households or nearly 72 lakh people. The survey was done in 2009 and its report published in January 2011.

The infant mortality rate in Maharashtra is significantly lower than the national average. However, it is 2.5 times more than Kerala's (12 per 1,000 live births) which has set the trend, and Tamil Nadu (28 per 1,000 live births), the report called Health Status 2010, said.

Infant Mortality Rate
  • It is an important indicator of overall human development, and so monitoring its status is necessary
  • IMR constitutes the neonatal mortality rate – – deaths of children within the first four weeks of life, and post neonatal mortality rate – deaths of children after the first four weeks and within the first year
  • Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra are front runners in reducing baby deaths over the past decade
  • Tamil Nadu has reduced infant mortality by 46%, West Bengal by 37% and Maharashtra by 35%

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