Mortality rate of girls is higher than boys indicating a “worrisome trend” for government.

India has impressively brought down its maternal and infant mortality rates, indicating that it was close to achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations though the total fertility rate (TFR) has remained stationary after showing a decline during the past few years.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) – number of women dying due to maternal causes per 1, 00, 000 live births – has come down to 212 (2007-09) from 254 in 2004-06. The MDG target for India is to bring down maternal deaths to 109 by 2015. Similarly, the infant mortality rate (IMR) – the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births – has registered a 3 point decline at 50 from 53 in 2008, thought every 6th death in the country pertains to an infant. Sadly enough, the mortality rate of girls is higher than boys indicating a “worrisome trend” for the government.

The under 5 mortality rate (U5MR), denoting the number of children (0-4 years) who die before reaching an age of five years, has declined by 5 points over 2008 to touch 64 in 2009 as against 69 in 2008. However, the average number of children born to a woman during her entire reproductive period or the total fertility rate (TFR) remained stationary at 2.6 during 2008 to 2009.

Releasing a latest statistics of the Sample Registration System (SRS), the Registrar General of India (RGI) and Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli said the progress of India on this front is vital for overall reduction in the world as every fifth woman dying due to reproductive causes is an Indian. The 17 per cent decline in the MMR has been most significant in Empowered Action group of States and Assam from 375 to 308, indicating a fall of 18 per cent. Among the Southern States, the decline has been from 149 to 127 (15 per cent) and in the other States from 174 to 149 (14 per cent). “It is worth noting that the number of States that have achieved the MDG target in 2007-09 has gone up to 3 as compared to 1 in 2004-06. Kerala, with a figure at 81, was the sole State earlier which has now been joined by Tamil Nadu at 97 and Maharashtra at 104. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat and Haryana are in closer proximity to achieving the target,'' Mr Chandramouli said.

The maximum infant mortality rate has been reported from Madhya Pradesh (67) against the national average of 50, while Kerala, again, is among the earliest to achieve the MDG target of 28, well ahead of the set date. Kerala's IMR is 12 with Tamil Nadu just at 28. While Delhi is at 33, Maharashtra at 31 and West Bengal at 33 are within the reaching distance.

The TFR for the country remained constant at 2.6 during 2008-09 with Bihar reporting the highest TFR at 3.9 while Kerala and Tamil Nadu continuedits outstanding performance with the lowest rate at 1.7. The TFR level of 2.1 has been attained by nine States and Union Territories with Andhra Pradesh at 1.9, Karnataka (2.0), Kerala (1.7), Maharashtra (1.9), Punjab (1.9), Tamil Nadu (1.7) and West Bengal (1.9). At present, on average, a rural woman, (having a TFR of 2.9) at the national level, would have about one child more than an urban one(having a TFR of 2.0).

A uniform decline of about 5 points is seen in male and female under 5 maternal rate with the maximum reported from Madhya Pradesh (89) and the minimum in Kerala (14). As of now Kerala, Tamil Nadu (33), Maharashtra (36), Delhi (37) and West Bengal (40) have achieved the MDG target of 42 by 2015.

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