While India has been able to curb its infant mortality rate and achieve its MDG target—according to government data, the country reported 39 deaths per thousand live births this year against 40 in the previous—a study published in The Lancet makes it clear the country will face an uphill task to reduce it further.
The DeNIS study, which involved 13,530 newborns, was conducted across three Delhi hospitals—Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College, Maulana Azad Medical College and AIIMS—and found that 26% of the babies with sepsis died due to multi-drug resistance. It highlights that three microbes (Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, and E coli) were the cause of infections in more than 50% neonates, of which 14% cases were resistant to drugs.
While the study highlights that deaths were despite the fact that early detection and care was available, it blamed inadequate hygiene compliance as one of the major causes. With the WHO declaring drug resistance as a serious threat to global health—there were 480,000 deaths due to MDR tuberculosis in 2014, and drug resistance strains of malaria, HIV and influenza have also been reported—India would do well to control the use of antibiotics and also inform citizens about it. As for neonates, the country would need a clean-up of its birthing facilities.