The Tamil Nadu Health Department will implement Infant Death Audit System across the State from January 1 in an attempt to work out new strategies for reducing Infant Mortality Rate (IMR).

A G.O. to this effect is expected to be issued by the State in a couple of days and the new system will be a ‘major step’ towards addressing the issue of infant deaths, S. Elango, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, has said.

He told The Hindu here recently that the Infant Death Audit will help the Health Department to find out the causes of infant deaths and take corrective measures through right interventions.

“We will implement the audit from January 1, 2010. Our objective is to bring down the IMR to 20 per 1,000 in our State from the current level of 31. The G.O. will enable the district level health officials to submit a verbal autopsy report on infant deaths,” Dr.Elango said.

The Director of Public Health along with Saradha Suresh, Director, Institute of Child Health at Egmore in Chennai, was in the city to participate in a sensitisation meeting on infant death audit conducted for Deputy Directors of Health Services/Maternal and Child Heath Officers of various districts.

According to him, the mechanism to strictly monitor infant deaths will be strengthened at the district level through the proposed audit.

“The district officials will have to submit a report to the State Health Department headquarters providing information on infant deaths within 24 hours. A State-level audit became essential because the IMR has more or less remained static and new ways have to be found to reduce it,” Dr.Elango observed.

The District Collectors too will be involved in the audit system and each district will have two committees to monitor the IMR.

“So far, we have been reviewing the infant deaths as a routine exercise and that will not be the case from now on. Every infant death will be treated as an emergency and the number should come down,” he said.

More In: Madurai