Infant Deaths In India Lowest In 5 Years, Still Highest In The World: UN

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In a major boost to the mortality rate in India, the child deaths have come down and stand same as global average, according to a report by UNICEF, WHO, UN Population Division and the World Bank Group. The under-five mortality of boy reduced to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births. The under-five mortality of the girl child is 40 deaths per 1,000 live births.

But the gender gap in child survival remains far below the global average. The under-five mortality of the girl child is 2.5 per cent higher (40 deaths per 1,000 live births) than the under-five mortality of the boy child (39 deaths per 1,000 live births). This gender gap has reduced significantly given that the difference was nearly 10% in 2012. Globally, girl child survival rates are 11%  higher than boys.

Millions of babies and children should not still be dying every year from lack of access to water, sanitation, proper nutrition or basic health services. The report highlighted that most children under the age of five die because of preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal sepsis and malaria. By comparison, among children between 5 and 14 years of age, injuries become a more prominent cause of death.

“Infant deaths were reported the highest in the world in India, followed by Nigeria at 466,000, Pakistan at 330,000 and the Democratic Republic of Congo at 233,000 (DRC). India recorded 605,000 neonatal deaths in 2017, and the number of deaths among children aged 5-14 was recorded at 152,000,” said the report. However, the numbers for infant deaths were lowest in five years for India and have come down from 867,000 in 2016 to 802,000 in 2017.

Without urgent action, 56 million children under five will die from now until 2030 – half of them newborns,” said Laurence Chandy, Unicef Director of Data, Research and Policy. “We have made remarkable progress to save children since 1990, but millions are still dying because of who they are and where they are born. With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child.”

India continues to show an impressive decline in child deaths, with its share of global under-five deaths for the first time equalling its share of childbirths. The investment in ensuring holistic nutrition under POSHAN Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission), and the national commitment to make India open defecation free by 2019, are steps that will help accelerate progress further.