Neonatal Mortality A Grave Concern
Recently, as per the report titled “Every Child Alive”, gives a country-wise ranking of Neonatal Mortality Rates (NMR) was released by the UNICEF and India ranks 12th among 52 low middle-income countries having the highest infant mortality rates.
What is Neonatal Mortality Rate?
Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) is the number of resident newborns in a specified geographic area (country, state, county, etc.) dying at less than 28 days of age divided by the number of resident live births for the same geographic area (for a specified time period, usually a calendar year) and multiplied by 1,000.
What does the report emphasize?
Over 6 lakh newborns die in India within 28 days of their birth every year while the country has been able to reduce the mortality rate of children less than five years of age. Surprisingly, 80 percent of these happen for no serious reason. In 2016, the neonatal mortality rate is recorded at 25.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in India whereas around 2.6 million children died in the first month of life globally.
The average newborn mortality in low-income nations is nine times the rate of high-income countries. In high-income countries, it is 3 deaths per 1,000 live births. In low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 live births.
"Though infant mortality in the country has declined considerably, the number of newborns die each year remains unacceptably high. India, with nearly 600,000 newborn deaths each year, accounts for a quarter of the global burden of neonatal deaths," said UNICEF in its global report on neonatal mortality "Every Child Alive" released earlier this year.
What does the report call for?
India has more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century. The report shows that majority of these deaths are preventable through schemes and programs that will target the poor and vulnerable mothers. Proper healthcare facilities must be served in each and every corner of the country to ensure the quality of both mother’s as well as child’s health. Hospitals should ensure that the critical products to save the newborns are available.
The biggest cause of death is premature birth whereas complications like asphyxia during delivery are another reason. Preventing these would mean paying attention to the mother’s health during pregnancy. This should be ensured that she delivers in a hospital attended by trained doctors or midwives.
Programmes such as the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’ should be expanded to reach the poor and vulnerable in remote areas. Millions of unwanted girl children being another reason that constitutes the infant mortality rate. The female literacy rate is another major factor on which the central government, as well as the state government, must look into. Certain states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have focused on these factors, bringing down newborn deaths to fewer than 15 per 1000. Without education, a society can’t undergo any sort of change.
The report has stressed that financial resources were not the biggest constraint in improving this health indicator in the country so it is more in the hands of those who manage the society and who works for the upliftment. However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands do not receive the life-saving support they need to survive. Addressing gaps in quality of health care is the need of the hour in India.