A day-long conclave organised by the Hindustan Times in Lucknow drew the attention of both the Uttar Pradesh and central governments towards the ever-rising infant mortality rate.
Union Human Resource Development Minister of State Jitin Prasada, who shared the stage with UP Chief Minister Akhikesh Yadav said in one voice that they would shun any kind of politics on the issue, which they declared was close to their hearts.
Displaying utmost concern over the 2.4 lakh infant deaths across the length and breadth of the country of which a substantial number (70,000) was in UP, the two leaders vowed to “bring this astronomical figure down at all cost”.
Held in collaboration with Delhi-based ‘Save the Children’ foundation, the meet drew participation of representatives across fields ranging from top bureaucrats to leading NGOs to academicians from the Indian Institute of Management, UNICEF, medical institutions and industry leaders.
In his impromptu speech, Jitin Prasada sought to point out, “You do not require rocket science to save children from dying. All that is needed is education and awareness. In fact, until sometime back even I was unaware that new-born children should not be given water and that an infant must be kept only on breast-feed for the first month.”
He felt that the foods security Bill would go a long way in tackling the issue of child mortality too as a lot of children in the rural areas remained malnourished.
“The ‘malnutrition -- quit India’ programme undertaken by the central government would also help bring down the mortality rate among children,” he said.
Chief Minister Yadav was impressed by a suggestion for introduction of health and nutrition in the school curriculum.
“I remember an old saying -- prevention is better than cure. So I surely welcome this idea of introducing the subjects of health and nutrition in schools,” he said.
To make a beginning in that direction he said, “I will have a film highlighting the problems related to health, nutrition and hygiene uploaded on the laptops to be distributed to all students passing Class XII as well as on tablets to be given to students passing Class X.”
The distribution of laptops and tablets would be initiated by the chief minister at a ceremony in Lucknow on March 10.