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Plan to reduce infant mortality

It will be carried out with the extensive outreach mechanisms used for fighting polio

The Centre on Thursday launched a programme to reduce infant mortality and bring down the number of deaths to a single digit by 2030 from the current 29 deaths per 1,000 live births. The ‘India Newborn Action Plan (INAP),’ inaugurated by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, is the first step towards arresting infant deaths.

Asserting that India can reduce the deaths through “simple, cost-effective interventions” before and immediately after delivery, Dr. Vardhan said of the 2.8 million who die at birth worldwide, India contributes seven lakh. “These are preventable deaths and now we have an action plan to do it. I don’t believe in long-range targets. We must achieve our goal within a short time,” he said.

INAP has been prepared with the help of expertise drawn from distinguished members of a Technical Resource Group, he said, adding: “13.3 lakh children under the age of five years die in India and 7.56 lakh of them in their first month. We have studied in depth the reasons for these deaths and come out with comprehensive solutions.”

The programme will be implemented under the existing Reproductive, Maternal, Child Health and Adolescents Plus (RMNCHA+) framework. The Minister said it would be carried out with the extensive outreach mechanisms used for fighting polio.

Praising Bill Gates and Melinda Gates who were present on the occasion for their valuable support to India’s health programmes, particularly mother and child care, Dr. Vardhan said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was doing valuable work in the rural areas.

“Just as he revolutionised the basic human thought process through the personal computer revolution, Bill Gates has saved millions of lives by donating billions of dollars for transforming conditions of human existence. At a time when the anti-polio campaign was threatened for want of adequate funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stepped in with help. They are invaluable partners in our fight against disease and death,” Dr. Vardhan said.

Mr. Gates, who is the Chair of the Foundation, said there were lessons to be learnt from India’s fight against polio, and these could be applied against other diseases also. He appreciated the efforts to expand the list of diseases under the Universal Immunisation Programme.

Ms. Gates, Co-Chair of the Foundation, said by launching INAP, India had shown leadership in addressing newborn and maternal mortality. “Healthy mothers and healthy children are crucial for India to realise the demographic dividend,” she added.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2020 6:26:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/plan-to-reduce-child-deaths-launched/article6423712.ece

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