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Norway would extend its full cooperation to India in improving maternal and newborn child healthcare as inequitable mortality across states in this area here remains a challenge, its envoy said. Observing that India's success in achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) has a huge impact on global goal achievement, Norwegian Ambsassador to India Nils Ragnar Kamsvag said that his country's cooperation will continue to focus on global health issues of common interest. "The main challenge in the field of maternal, newborn and child health is that mortality continues to be inequitable across states and districts. "The data from the 2015-2016 national family health survey demonstrates this clearly," he told PTI. He also commended the Indian government's decision to focus efforts on the 102 high priority districts that account for 86 per cent of total maternal and 70 per cent of total child deaths in the country. Norway, he said, is a partner of the Indian government, and take the objectives, as outlined in the National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of sustainable development goals, as the common point of departure. "More concretely, our future cooperation will focus on supporting the government in the implementation of the District Implementation Plan for Improving Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in India from September 2017," he said. A letter of Intent was signed on the September 28 between the Indian MInistry of Health and Family Welfare and Norway's foreign affairs ministry through which both the nations affirmed to work together to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in India. Also, Norway India partnership Initiative (NIPI) designs and tests innovations, that, if found successful, are taken over and scaled up by the Indian government. It also provides strategic and catalytic support to the state and national health mission. Kamsvag said he has visited Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir, the five states where NIPI is working, in the last 12 months and these visits have given him a variety of insights and experiences. "The main success factor of NIPI is the fact that we have provided innovative, catalytic and strategic techno-managerial support to the government, based on the latter's own priority areas. "The future cooperation in health will continue to run on this key strength, whilst also extending our cooperation to other global health areas of common interest," he said. The envoy said both the countries are already working together on health research projects, and are partners in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). "I believe that there is scope for even stronger collaboration," he said. The Norwaygian Ambassador said he has been overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of India, and the strides it is making towards improving its healthcare quotient. "For a country 200 times more populated than Norway, and having distinctly different lifestyle cultures in each of its states, challenges are natural and inevitable," he said. He however said that he was optimistic that the Indian leadership will continue to invest in better information management systems and effective cross sectoral working between various departments to enhance the existing usefulness of healthcare delivery provisions.
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