India one of the worst places to be born

More than three lakh children die in the country on the first day

India one of the worst places to be born

After sub-Saharan Africa, Indian sub-continent is the worst place in the world for a child to be born as almost one-third of the newborns are destined to die in the first day of their lives.

Every year 3,09,000 babies die on the first day of their lives in India, which tops a chart-10 countries with maximum number of first day baby deaths. The list also has Pakistan (59,800) at number third spot followed by Bangladesh (28,100) at seventh position and Afghanistan (18,000) at ninth place.

Preterm birth (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), birth complications and infections are the three commonest causes of baby deaths in India and other countries. Almost half of all preterm deliveries happened at home, says a report prepared by non-governmental organisation Save the Children.

Way back in 2006, the Central government introduced the National Rural Health Mission to encourage institutional delivery. The government offered financial incentives for rural women to give birth in health facilities.

While facility births have boomed, says the new report released on Tuesday, the newborn death rates have not reduced commensurately, because most of the facilities had neither the quality of care nor trained, motivated and equipped health workers in place to handle the influx – a fact that had been highlighted by public health workers for the last few years.

This has spawned a new worrying trend on “maternal morbidity” that includes obstetrics fistula, damage of the reproductive tract, loss of child-bearing ability after the first birth and uterine prolapse, which is a genital problem that comes from traumatic childbirth.

The women, mostly from rural India, are suffering primarily because of the inability of people managing primary health care centres to recognise the clinical symptoms, failure in timely referral to a bigger hospital, poor quality medical intervention and absence of even basic facilities like electricity in labour rooms, say public health officials, who are not involved in preparing the report.

In India, death cases among babies born to poor mothers are twice when compared with that among babies born to rich mothers. If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest 20 per cent of Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year.

India has more maternal deaths than any other country in the world (56,000 per year). In India and Nepal, 12 to 13 per cent of women are stunted, which puts them at higher risk of complications during delivery and of having small babies.

In both countries, 20 to 40 per cent of women are excessively thin, which compounds the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes. Early marriage and childbearing heighten the risks for both mothers and babies.

The latest government statistics shows in 248 districts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Assam, the infant mortality rate is 45 per 1000 live births or more, which is almost double the national target of having an IMR of 28. In almost 20 per cent districts, IMR remains either stagnant or has gone up.

Country                    No of first day               Global burden  of          
                                        deaths                                first day deaths
India                             3,09,300                             29%
Nigeria                          89,700                               9%
Pakistan                     59,800                                6%
China                              50,600                              5%
DR Congo                      48,400                                 5%
Ethiopia                        28,800                              3%
Bangladesh                  28,100                                3%                                 

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