Approximately one half of the new-born first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother had access to free health care and a skilled midwife. A recent study titled “Ending Newborn Deaths, Ensuring Every Baby Survives’, revealed that the situation is grim and the deaths happen because of premature birth and complications during birth, such as prolonged labor, pre-eclampsia and infection, which can be avoided if quality health experts are present.
The research also found an additional 1.2 million babies are stillborn each year, their heartbeats stopping during labor because of childbirth complications, maternal infections and hypertension.
The report presents India as a case study with some crucial facts:
India has made progress in improving access to health services, but inequalities remain, arising from geographical, social, cultural and economic factors. The under-five mortality rate in India has been more than halved since 1990 – from 126 per 1,000 live births to 56.104 While the child mortality rate has come down across all population groups, it is three times higher among the poorest households compared with the richest.
Delhi’s infant mortality rate (IMR) is as high 30 out of 1,000 live births , higher than Mumbai (20), Chennai (15) and Kolkata (20)
There are some promising initiatives by the government, yet there are challenges, and implementation remains weak. For example, coordination between schemes is poor, while limited resources mean trade-offs between extending population coverage and expanding benefits packages.
While there has been significant progress on ensuring child survival in India, the fact that nearly 40 per cent of neo-natal deaths occur on the 1st day of birth in India is stalling progress on achieving Millennium Development Goal- 4 (reducing IMR).
“With the Call to Action on Child Survival, the Centre has demonstrated a high level of commitment and political will towards ensuring child survival. India has the technical know-how; what is required is a greater urgency to ongoing efforts and focus on the poorest and the most marginalised groups,’’ the report says.”