Karnataka intensifies RCH measures to lower IMR

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. (PTI photo)

Three months ago, when the sample registration survey (SRS) 2017 was released, it showed that Karnataka’s Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) had increased by a notch from 24 (per 1,000) in 2016 to 25. The health secretary, however, said that the IMR would come down by two points in 2018 survey, thanks to the effective implementation of reproductive and child health activities (RCH) in the state.

Officers of child health wing in the state health department say that inputs from the Management Information System (MIS) of Sick Neonatal Care Units (SNCUs) show that Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) that accounts for 70% of the infant mortality rate is reducing.

The state’s neonatal mortality rate is 18. IMR is the number of deaths of children aged less than one year per 1,000 live births.

The Office of the Registrar General every year releases dependable demographic data derived from a large cohort of people on indicators like population growth, fertility and mortality in the SRS report. In the backdrop of a large number of infant deaths in Kota, Rajasthan, IMR in other states has assumed significance.

The state had an IMR of 28 in 2015 and 24 in 2016. This is far better than the national average of 33. “We are strengthening our 44 SNCUs to lower infant mortality rate. Be it equipment, training of staff nurses or human resource.

Neonatal mortality rate has neither increased nor decreased in the last two years, according to SRS reports. But, going by the data furnished by SNCU MIS, death rate is definitely decreasing,” an official from the child health wing of the Health department said. 

The main cause of NMR is premature childbirths before completing 36 weeks of pregnancy. This leads to respiratory distress, low birth weight or infections.

“To contain premature births we are focusing on the spacing between childbirths, antenatal checkups and prevention of infections. Apart from this, antenatal corticosteroids usage is being advocated for those who are at risk of having premature babies,” she said.

Another major cause of NMR in the state is birth asphyxia. “If there is a delay in delivery, it causes birth asphyxia. So we are focusing on timely referrals from lower primary health centres to our centres,” she added.

Union government’s initiative ‘LaQshya’ (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) is being implemented in all public health centres to reduce newborn mortality and morbidity due to haemorrhage, retained placenta, eclampsia, obstructed labour and newborn sepsis.

The initiative aims at improving the quality of care during the delivery and immediately after, stabilise complications and enable an effective two-way follow-up system.

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