Notable fall in infant mortality, still a long way to go for India; these social changes may help

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June 30, 2020 1:17 PM

The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country fell to 32 in the year 2018 per 1000 live child births, down eight points from 40 in 2013, and down one point from 33 in 2017.

infant mortality rate, IMR, child mortality, health issue, social issue, SRS reportIndia’s eight-point improvement in infant mortality during 2013-2018 translates into an annual average improvement of 1.6 points. (Bloomberg image)

India has recorded a significant fall in infant mortality rate in the last five years, driven by an increasing awareness about health and sanitation, and may improve the situation further by tackling some age-old social issues. The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country fell to 32 in the year 2018 per 1000 live child births, down eight points from 40 in 2013, and down one point from 33 in 2017, according to the SRS Statistical report 2018. The state of Madhya Pradesh fared worst in India with the maximum infant mortality rate of 48 per 1000; where Kerala had the lowest infant mortality at 7 per 1000.

India’s eight-point improvement in infant mortality during 2013-2018 translates into an annual average improvement of 1.6 points. However, despite the improvement, the condition of infant mortality rate (IMR) is still alarming in the country. To put India’s IMR into the global perspective, India ranked 47 in the list of 225 countries with the most number of infant mortality cases, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) 2017 estimates. Iraq, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, etc had better survival conditions for infants. However, fighting against social issues such as poverty, malnutrition, sanitation, and immunisation, may turn around the condition of infants’ health in India.

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The infant mortality rate is more severe in rural India than in the urban regions. IMR in rural India stood at 36 in 2018, while it was 23 in the urban areas. However, the cases related to the infant mortality rate in rural areas fell at double the pace in urban areas in the past five years.

The Sample Registration System (SRS) is the largest demographic survey in the country mandated to provide annual estimates of fertility as well as mortality indicators at the state and national levels. The SRS report released by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner also showed an improvement in sex ratio in the country. Sex Ratio at birth rose by 3 points to 899 during 2016-18, from 896 during 2015-2017. Chhattisgarh has reported the highest sex ratio of 958 at birth, while Uttarakhand showed the sex ration of 840, which is the lowest in the country.

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