Cause for cheer: Why govt must ensure pandemic doesn’t rob India of progress made on curbing IMR

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Published: July 2, 2020 4:10 AM

What is even more worrying is that the rural areas of the country still have large healthcare and nutrition delivery gaps—as a result, one in every 28 infants in rural areas dies vis-a-vis one in every 43 in urban areas.

The Centre and the states must ensure that healthcare delivery for infants and toddlers is not affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.The Centre and the states must ensure that healthcare delivery for infants and toddlers is not affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

India seeing a significant dip in infant mortality is a spot of cheer in the times of Covid-19. The recently released Sample Registration System—Statistical Report 2018, from the Registrar General and Census Commission of India, shows that IMR in 2018 was 32 per thousand live births as compared to 40 in 2013. The states recording widely disparate figures—Madhya Pradesh had the highest IMR of 48 per 1,000 live births and Kerala the lowest at 7—however shows that it is the states’ intervention that matters the most, given health is a states subject. Kerala, which has the best showing in terms of public healthcare delivery, offers an obvious model for other states to follow.

What is even more worrying is that the rural areas of the country still have large healthcare and nutrition delivery gaps—as a result, one in every 28 infants in rural areas dies vis-a-vis one in every 43 in urban areas. But, there is some progress there—a five-year trend mapping shows a sharper decline in the rural areas than in urban areas. But, there are large risks from the pandemic—with healthcare facilities hit and the national lockdown, 1.5 million children in Uttar Pradesh missed out on their vaccine doses; the state’s IMR in 2018 was 43. The Centre and the states must ensure that healthcare delivery for infants and toddlers is not affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Else, all the gains from over the years could get reversed.

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