Golden quarter brings fresh lease of life for newborns

Golden quarter brings fresh lease of life for newborns

In a shocking incident in September this year, a stray dog sneaked into the labour room of the government hospital at Kishangarh town in Ajmer district in Rajasthan and took away a newborn. The baby died due to the dog’s bite and the body of the infant was later recovered from the hospital premises by bystanders.

In March this year, Jodhpur’s Umaid Maternity Hospital was in focus for the death of 18 pregnant women admitted in the hospital for delivery, dying of excessive bleeding and infection.

Of the 18 women, 15 had died at the Umaid Hospital after complications that arose during or after their deliveries at the hospital. The hospital has become notorious for a string of maternal deaths due to alleged medical negligence.

After a number of enquires it was found that the deaths were due to the injection of contaminated intravenous fluids coupled with poor hygienic conditions.

However, a study on Infant mortality rates and causes of deaths among infants, in a group of villages of Jamwa Ramgarh panchayat samiti in Jaipur district, found significant decline in IMR over a period of two-and-a-half decades from 1980 to 2005.

The study findings show three important changes over the years: significant reduction in IMR by less than half ; increase in the proportion of neo-natal deaths to total infant deaths; and change in the pattern of causes of infant deaths.

The IMR declined from 124 in 1980 to 55.4 in 2005. The distribution of infant deaths by age showed an increase in the proportion of neo-natal deaths as compared to those occurring in the post-natal period. Neo-natal deaths which accounted for almost 50 per cent of the total infant deaths in 1980 study, increased to two-thirds of infant deaths in 2005. Most marked changes were seen in early neo-natal mortality (within 7 days), that accounted for 87.5 per cent of neo-natal deaths in 2005, compared to 51.6 per cent in 1980.

Causes of death

The comparison of causes of infant deaths between the first study in 1980 and the follow-up study in 2005 showed a changing pattern over a period of 25 years. The proportion of mortality due to diarrhoea has declined substantially from 14.5 per cent to 8.3 per cent during the period. Percentage of deaths due to fever and rashes, which also included measles, have gone down from 16.1 per cent to 5.6 per cent. Similar was the pattern for deaths associated with severe malnutrition, with a 57.2 per cent decline from 19.4 per cent. However, pneumonia deaths remained unchanged and continued to be a major cause of death. About one-fourth of deaths were due to pneumonia.

It credits the  phenomenal expansion of health care facilities and services, disease-specific health interventions, and success of developmental programmes such as water and sanitation, education and poverty reduction measures for the tremendous impact.