A new survey has claimed a huge decline in cause-specific child mortality rates between 2000 and 2015 in India. The Lancet survey on changes in cause-specific neonatal (younger than 1 month) and 1–59-month mortality says that India avoided about 1 million child deaths. It says that 29 million cumulative child deaths occurred from 2000 to 2015. The neonatal mortality rate from infection fell by 66% from 11·9 per 1000 livebirths in 2000 to 4·0 per 1000 live births in 2015. The death rate from birth asphyxia or trauma fell by 76% from 9·0 per 1000 livebirths in 2000 to 2·2 per 1000 livebirths in 2015, it says.
At 1–59 months, the mortality rate from pneumonia fell by 63% from 11·2 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 4·2 per 1000 live births in 2015, while the deaths from diarrhoea fell by 66% from 9·4 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 3·2 per 1000 live births in 2015 (with narrowing girl–boy gaps). It also suggests that neonatal tetanus mortality rate fell from 1·6 per 1000 live births in 2000 to less than 0·1 per 1000 live births in 2015. While the 1–59-month measles mortality rate fell from 3·3 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 0·3 per 1000 live births in 2015.
The survey however, further calculates the mortality rates for prematurity or low birthweight and says that deaths from mortality rates for prematurity or low birthweight rose from 12·3 per 1000 livebirths in 2000 to 14·3 per 1000 livebirths in 2015, driven mostly by increases in term births with low birthweight in poorer states and rural areas.
Interpreting the outcome, the Lancet survey report said: “To meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for child mortality, India will need to maintain the current trajectory of 1–59-month mortality and accelerate declines in neonatal mortality (to >5% annually) from 2015 onwards. Continued progress in reduction of child mortality due to pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, and measles at 1–59 months is feasible. Additional attention to low birthweight is required.”