India to miss UN target on reducing infant mortality

Though the Central government has disbursed an incentive of Rs 1,500 crore among states in the last two years to bring down the number of baby deaths, India is unlikely to achieve the United Nations target of reducing its infant mortality rate (IMR) set in 2000.

India's Millennium Development Goal target is to have an IMR of 28 per 1,000 live births by 2015. However, even though the IMR is on a steady decline, the target is still too steep considering that in 2011, national IMR stood at 44.

While urban India fared better with an IMR of 29 and is likely to reach the UN target, villages are pulling the national average back as rural India’s IMR stands at whopping 48.

However, over the years, there has been a definitive improvement. The IMR was 60 in 2003 from where it gradually came down to 57 in 2006 and 47 in 2010. The reason for high mortality include early age of marriage, frequent pregnancies, deliveries at home, inadequate nutrition and poor health infrastructure.

Out of Rs 1,500 crore incentives given by the Union Finance Ministry, more than half (Rs 784.5 crore) went to five small states – Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Meghalaya. Three big states – Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu – were given Rs 408 crore, leaving just Rs 300 crore for 21 states.

Karnataka received Rs 53 crore while Andhra Pradesh and Kerala got Rs 14 crore and Rs 15 crore respectively.

The reduction in infant and maternal mortality rate brought praise to India from UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon who, on a visit to Delhi last year, said he would like other developing countries to replicate India's success story.

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