In 2018, the infant mortality rate in India was at about 30 deaths per 1,000 live births, a significant decrease from previous years. The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1,000 live births Afghanistan has the highest rate at 91 followed by Pakistan 81. In India, the office of the Registrar General of India regularly releases reliable estimates of child deaths in terms of Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) using data collected through Sample Registration System (SRS). India is also likely to miss the target of reducing U5MR by two-third, though ‘narrowly’. Neo-natal deaths account for 56% of Under-5 deaths in India which is much higher than the global average of 44%. The progress in reduction of neo-natal mortality has been slow. Additionally, the education level and age of the mother has a significant bearing on the chances of her baby’s survival. Neonatal mortality rates among mothers with no education are nearly twice as high for those with secondary schooling and above. Every child has the right to survive and the Indian Government has an obligation to protect them. Prioritising marginalized and excluded communities, especially in States lagging behind is one of the surest ways that India can reduce the numbers of children dying from easily preventable causes. The National Rural Health Mission, for example, should have a clear focus on social inclusion of Dalits and Adivasis in terms of access to health care. What is shocking is that many of the neonatal deaths can be easily prevented with simple, cost-effective interventions before, during and immediately after birth. Of the three periods, the time close to delivery is most critical and any failures in the healthcare system during this short window period lead to more newborn deaths.
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