2009-10-05 15:22:12

Low health spend blamed for India's child mortality

(October 5, 2009) Nearly 2 million children under five die from lack of care in India every year, more than in any other country, said a new report released on Monday which blames poor public health spending and entrenched inequalities. More than half of infant deaths occur in the first month after birth, said the report titled, "Giving Every Child the Chance to Survive", published by the charity Save the Children, which surveyed 14 countries including China, Pakistan and Nigeria, and ranked India 171 out of 175 countries in public health spending. Child mortality rates have fallen in recent years in India, which ranks among the fastest growing economies, but at 72 deaths per 1,000 live births, its neonatal mortality rate is worse than its poorer neighbours Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India accounts for a fifth of all newborn deaths from such preventable diseases as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the report said, and will need greater political commitment and resource allocation to meet its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the report said. "Poor countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Peru and the Philippines that are on track to meet MDG explode the myth that the costs of reducing newborn and child mortality are high," said Thomas Chandy, chief executive of Save the Children. India will meet its goal only by 2020, five years after the committed date. Malnutrition is the leading cause of death among children less than five years old, with nearly one-third of all malnourished children in India, the report said. Neonatal diseases, diarrhoea and pneumonia are also leading causes of death, with gender and caste inequalities, lack of clean water and sanitation facilities also contributing. Half the women give birth without help from skilled health workers.

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