India- World’s child death capital

India- World’s child death capital

We stood best in the worst list. India has unofficially turned into the world’s child death capital, with a study claiming that over 5,000 children die in the country every day of “totally preventable causes”.

According to the study, Child Health Now, by the NGO World Vision, India accounts for the highest number of child deaths under five years of age in the world at 1.95 million per year.

Children from the poorest communities are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of 5 than those from high income groups.Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, there has been no visible pattern between per capita income growth and the rate of reduction of child mortality rates.

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Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.95 million children die before their fifth birthday in India. What these aggregate figures do not expose are the huge discriminations in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas.

The less than 5 mortality rate in Kerala is 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stands at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 or 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths. It is evident that a major turnaround in India will ensure a significant impact globally.

Simple measures like exclusive breastfeeding for six months can prevent child deaths by a good 16%.The message of hope in this challenging scenario is that a vast majority of children can be saved through a combination of good care, nutrition, and medical treatment. It is believed that other easy measures could prevent 90% of diarrhea deaths, 62% of pneumonia deaths, 100% measles deaths, 92% malaria deaths, 44% HIV/AIDS deaths and 52% neonatal fatalities.

Proven strategies and interventions such as keeping the newborn baby sufficiently warm, micronutrient supplements such as vitamin A and zinc and antibiotics for sepsis, pneumonia and dysentery are expected. Various impediments that still pose a challenge to such simple interventions should be identified and explored.

More than 1 million child deaths in India can easily be prevented every year if we follow these. The only thing we can do is educate the people about the proper care to be taken.

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