More child deaths in India than in war-torn Syria

Reuters file photo for representation

Five lakh children have died in accidents over the last decade in India, more than the total child death rate in war-torn Syria, a study has found.

This figure, published in a new study released on Wednesday titled Advancing Child Safety in India, revealed that the average annual death toll of children (aged 0-18) in accidents in India per year is 60,000, out of which nearly 41% were due to road accidents. Thirty-one per cent happened at home, 19% due to drowning and 6% due to falls.

The report says 165 children die in India every day due to an unintentional injury. In Karnataka, 2,045 children, aged 0-14, died due to accidents in 2017.

Dr Gururaj G, Dean of Neurosciences at Nimhans, said these statistics were the first comprehensive numbers, which the study, the result of a year-long effort by Nimhans and US-based Underwriters Laboratories, hopes to establish as a benchmark on which the government can implement corrective steps. 

The study examines the central question of child safety through a survey of 131 schools in and around Bengaluru, which discovered a slew of safety lapses at educational facilities, ranging from neglect of fire safety regulations, lack of safety officers, no training for emergencies and insufficient record-keeping.

Umashankar B P, additional commissioner of Karnataka Road Safety Authority, described the government’s effort to curb accidents as falling short.

“The number of road accident victims of all ages has hovered steadily around 1.4 lakh for the last 20 years. That we have not been able to reduce this figure shows our efforts have been limited,” he said, adding the threat of fines have not fazed bad drivers, partly blamed for the deaths.

The other offenders, according to Dr K G Jagadeesha, Commissioner for Public Instruction, are parents.

“Fifty-one per cent of children are transported to schools on private vehicles, like rickshaws and vans which do not have proper safety measures. If parents registered these vehicles with schools, we could ensure compliance with safety norms,” he said.

A staggering 5 lakh children have died in accidents over the last decade in India, more than the total child death rate in war-torn Syria, the study has found.

In Syria, an estimated 28,486 children have died since 2011.

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