Over three lakh newborns in India die within 24 hours of their birth every year – the highest number in the world.
With a total of 3,09,000 babies hardly surviving a day, India tops the list for such deaths, according to a report titled ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ released here on Tuesday.
The country accounts for 29 per cent of all such deaths — ahead even of Nigeria, Pakistan and China, the study by Save the Children says.
The report also claims that 4,20,000 babies across South Asia die on their first day – almost one every minute. Chronic malnourishment which leads to mental or physical impairment or ‘stunting’ is particularly severe in the region.
According to the report, of the one million babies who die each year on the day they are born, almost 40 per cent are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Quoting Sample Registration Survey (SRS 2011) figures, the report says Madhya Pradesh has the highest burden of early newborn deaths (0-7 days) at 32, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh and Odisha (30).
Other States with high burden are Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir.
Kerala shows the way
Kerala is the leader in reducing neonatal mortality by a wide margin, while Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra too have improved the national rate.
Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children in India, says: “For the first time in history, putting an end to this crisis is within our reach, but to achieve this will require unprecedented focus on saving babies in their first day of life. Save the Children recognises the immense efforts being made in India and the government’s commitment to end child mortality in a generation. Although many challenges remain, India has mobilised the most important ingredient to long term success: political will.”
Overall, however, the report says that progress in South Asia, while “significant” has, along with sub-Saharan Africa, “lagged behind the rest of the world.”
Two thirds of all newborn deaths occur in 10 countries, four of which are in the region: Nigeria, DR Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China.
Low in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has reduced newborn mortality by 49 per cent since 1990. Community health workers reaching mothers and babies at home, and training birth attendants and medical staff in resuscitation devices to help babies breathe are factors in this progress.
Nepal has reduced mortality by 47 per cent since 1990.
In South Asia, there are striking differences among countries in the case of maternal risk to life. In Afghanistan, a mother has a one in 32 risk of maternal death, in India it is 1 in 170, and in Nepal one in 190.
Top five nations
The top five countries in the South Asian mothers’ ranking are: Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. The bottom five are (in descending order) Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
Nigeria has 89,700 deaths in this category, followed by Pakistan (59,800), China (50,600), Congo (48,400), Ethiopia (28,800), Bangladesh (28,100), Indonesia (23,400), Afghanistan (18,000) and Tanzania (17,000).