Thiruvananthapuram

Dip in Under-5 mortality rate

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Gender divide, urban-rural gap in infant deaths exist in State as elsewhere

The Under-5 (U5) mortality rate — death of children before five years of age — in the State declined to 11 per 1,000 live births in 2016, dropping by two points, from 13 per 1,000 live births in 2015, according to the latest data released by the Office of the Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner, India, (ORGI), last week.

This is the lowest U5 mortality rate in the country, according to the ORGI data.

“This means that in Kerala the number of children dying between 1 and 5 years is very low, at just one per 1,000 live births. However, the data released by the ORGI show that the gender divide and the urban-rural gap when it comes to infant deaths continue in Kerala too as in most States. More girls seem to be dying than boys, the death rate of girls being 12 against 10 for boys. Also, the death rate is 12 in rural areas against 10 in urban areas,” points out Job Zachariah, UNICEF chief for Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

It was in September last year that the ORGI reported that the infant mortality rate (IMR) — death of infants in 0-1 year) — in Kerala had dropped from 12 in 2015 to 10 in 2016. Though the National Family Health Survey IV 2015 data released in March last year had showed an incredible drop in Kerala’s IMR from 12 to 6, public health experts have reckoned that the Sample Registration Survey data of ORGI, which show the IMR of Kerala to be 10, as more reliable.

The ORGI reports that the IMR dropped by 19.4% in Kerala between 2004-06 and 2014-16. Health officials point out that the drop in IMR and U5 mortality rate is a result of focussed interventions by the State in recent years to bring down neonatal mortality. The State has set the target IMR to be achieved by 2030 as 6.

Neonatal mortality

The latest ORGI report also puts the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) — death of infants less than 29 days — of Kerala at 6 per 1,000 live births against the national average of 24.

Neonatal deaths as the percentage of total infant deaths in Kerala is estimated at 56.6% . Here again, the urban-rural gap continues, with neonatal deaths accounting for a total of 68.5% infant deaths in rural areas and 42.9 % in urban areas.

The report also estimates Kerala’s early neonatal mortality rate — death of infants less than seven days of age — at 4 per 1,000 live births, against the national early NMR rate of 18.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 2:08:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/dip-in-under-5-mortality-rate/article22447128.ece

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