Article Origen: Times of India
NEW DELHI: Nearly 70% of infant deaths (within the first year of birth) in the country in 2010 took place during the first 29 days of life (neonatal).
While Jammu & Kashmir has the dubious distiction of leading the list with 82.1% infant deaths being neonatal, it is followed by Maharashtra (78%), Himachal Pradesh (77.5%), Punjab (74.2%), West Bengal (74%), Rajasthan (73.4%) and Madhya Pradesh (70.8%).
The Registrar General's latest data Sample Registration System 2010 says India saw nearly 32,000 fewer children dying in 2010 before reaching one month of life, compared to the previous year. This also means 88 fewer deaths per day. But even then, 8.62 lakh children died in 2010 within 29 days of life. This however is just a 3.6% dip from 2009. At the national level, the neonatal mortality rate dipped by just one point to 33 but ranges from 19 in urban areas to 36 in rural areas.
Among the bigger states, neonatal mortality ranges from as high as 44 in Madhya Pradesh to 7 in Kerala. Neonatal mortality rate in UP and Odisha was 42, Rajasthan 40, Chhattisgarh 37, Assam and Haryana 33.
In comparison, states with lower neonatal mortality included Tamil Nadu 16, Delhi 19, Maharashtra 22, West Bengal 23, Karnataka and Punjab 25. In absolute numbers, UP recorded the highest number of neonatal deaths (2.3 lakhs) followed by Madhya Pradesh (85,000), Bihar (84,000), Andhra Pradesh (45,000) and Maharashtra (42,000). Three states have actually recorded an increase in neonatal deaths - Delhi by 6.6%, Jharkhand 4% and Kerala 1.5%.
Himachal Pradesh has recorded the largest dip - 14% in neonatal deaths in 2010 followed by Andhra Pradesh 10.2%, Maharashtra 10%, Gujarat 9.5% and West Bengal 9%. Bihar recorded the lowest dip in neonatal mortality in 2010 over the previous year - 0.1% followed by Assam 0.4%, Karnataka 0.5%, Rajasthan 2.6% and Odisha 3.8%. Under the country's flagship National Rural Health Mission, neonates are now a major focus of child health both for mortality and morbidity reduction.
Speaking to TOI, NRHM chief Anuradha Gupta said "Decline in India's under five mortality rate has been steady and consistent. The Infant mortality rate too has seen a sharp decline in rural areas which is highly encouraging. Neonatal care is now our focus. A new home based new born scheme that we have rolled out will be a real game changer. We are also promoting better child care practices including better hygiene."
The scheme envisages Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to visit homes of new mothers six times within 42 days to encourage safe practices and early detection and free referral of sick babies. During this time, ASHAs will have to record the birth weight of the child in the maternal and child protection cards (MCP), immunize newborns with BCG vaccine, the first dose of the oral polio vaccine and the DPT vaccine and make the entries in the MCP card. They will also have to register the births and both the mother and child will have to be safe at the end of the 42nd day.