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As India turns 69 ,we have much to achieve in health


Views include those of Sankalp Sharma and Bill Gates

According to Sankalp Sharma, since independence, India’s healthcare systems have undergone a sea change. He is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Competitiveness, India.

He mentioned some statistics which according to him  reveal a remarkable transformation:

  • The life expectancy at birth has more than doubled from 32 years at the time of independence to 66 years in 2013.
  • The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has almost reduced threefold to 40 per 1000 live births.
  • India has also been successful in eradicating diseases like smallpox  and polio.

But the successes end here, as in several areas much remains to be done:

  • Almost half of the children under the age of five are stunted
  • The immunisation coverage of DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) in India is seven-tenths, which is comparable to sub-Saharan Africa
  • Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity are on the rise
  • Almost 60 percent of the world population, which defecates in the open, lives in India

According to an article written by Bill Gates, “there are many ways to tell India’s story of progress over the past generation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will tell one version when he addresses the nation at the Red Fort. My favourite version is this: In 1990, 3.3 million Indian children died before they turned five. Since then, the population has gone up by 48%, so you’d expect that 4.9 million Indian children died last year. In fact, the number was 1.3 million. That’s 3.5 million children who would have died last year but who lived because the Indian government prioritized health. The next task is to get from 1.3 million to as close to zero child deaths as possible, that means studying the progress of the past, learning from it, and improving upon it”.


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