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Child mortality on the wane in India: Report
January 22, 2008 19:00 IST
India has made substantial progress in reduction of child mortality, but still accounts for almost 50 per cent of the world's malnutrition and neonatal deaths, a new UNICEF report stated.
Bringing good news in the field of children's health, the report shows that the number of children dying before the age of five in the world has fallen below the 10 million mark for the first time in 2006 with India registering a decline of 34 per cent.
In 2006, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday has settled at 9.7 million annually, the report said.
The under-five years of age mortality for India was estimated as 76 in 2006. India has made progress in reduction of child mortality with average annual rate of reduction in under five mortality between 1990 and 2006 being around 2.6 per cent.
While worldwide 37 per cent of under-five deaths were are attributed to neonatal causes, in India this figure is around 50 per cent, which means that the proportion of child deaths due to neo-natal causes in India is unusually high.
India accounts for a quarter of all the world's neonatal deaths as evident by the figures-- each year, around four million children die within the first 28 days of life around the world. In India this number is estimated at around 1 million.
Around 19 million infants in the developing world have low birth weight, of these 8.3 million are in India. This means that around 43 per cent of all the world's infants who are born with a low birth weight are born in India.
In comparable figures for malnutrition, around 25 per cent children under the age of five years in the world are underweight while in India this figure is 43 per cent.
The average annual rate of decline in malnutrition rates since 1990 has been around 0.9 per cent � considerably accelerated progress is needed for India to meet its target of halving the percentage of underweight children by 2015.
About 55 million or one-third of the world's underweight children under age five group live in India. The states with the highest number of underweight children are Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar followed by Gujarat, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya.
The report reveals that pneumonia kills more children than any other illness worldwide-- more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. India has the largest number of deaths due to pneumonia.
About 69 per cent of children with suspected pneumonia are taken to a health facility and 13 per cent are treated with antibiotics.
The world body says that the way forward for India lies in increased resources for child survival.
"The issue must be placed high on the list of priorities in budget allocation and funds must be utilised effectively so that life-saving services reach all of those who need them,"