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India hopeful of achieving MDG child mortality target

IANS  |  New Delhi 

India is hopeful that it will reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of achieving the under-five mortality of 42 per 1,000 live births by 2015, a health ministry official said Tuesday.

The MDGs are eight international development goals established following the Millennium Summit of the UN in 2000.

"As per the 2012 figure, the under-five mortality is 52 per 1,000 live births. So it looks hopeful that by 2015, we will be able to reach 42 per 1,000 live births as the set target of MDG," said Anuradha Gupta, joint secretary in the ministry of health.

In 1990, the under-five mortality in India was 114 per 1,000 live births.

Releasing the report "Ending newborn deaths, ensuring every baby survives", Gupta said it was an "Achilles heal" in terms of controlling death during the first 28 days of birth called "neonatal mortality".

The report released by NGO Save the Children said neonatal mortality rate (NMR) has declined by two points in two consecutive years - from 33 to 31 per 1,000 births in 2010-2011 and from 31 to 29 per 1,000 births in 2011-2012.

"Unless we urgently start to tackle deaths among newborns, there is a real danger that progress in reducing child deaths could stall and we will fail in our ambition to be the generation that can end all preventable child deaths," said Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy.

Experts said that in order to tackle the problem, delivery care has to be improved and there should be a follow-up on home care.

"Under various schemes introduced by the government, the institutional delivery base and technical intervention has grown and improved. Now the focus has to be on quality and creating awareness among people on adolescent health, so that girls do not deliver before they turn 20," said Vinod Paul, head of the department of paediatrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

He also said there was a need of special attention to Delhi as the infant mortality was 25 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of Tamil Nadu which stands at 21.

"Tamil Nadu has more coastal areas and poverty compared to Delhi which largely comprises urban population, but still the infant mortality is poor," Paul added.

The report also recommended that interventions to reduce newborn mortality and morbidity due to pre-term births could be improved by training of health workers.

"Installation of intervention centres has improved but now the focus should be on quality of survival and development of cognitive sense of the child," said Arun Singh, in-charge of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthaya Karyakram (RBSK) under the National Rural Health Mission.

The report also said the RMNCH+A (Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child health and Adolescent health) adopted during the Call to Action Summit in February 2013 will bring in a paradigm shift.

"There are 16 lakh adolescent pregnancies reported. There is a substantial body of evidence on this, that unless you start to work with adolescents in a big way, you cannot address those very fundamental and critical issues which impact maternal and child health outcomes," said joint secretary Gupta.

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First Published: Tue, February 25 2014. 18:04 IST