India’s under-five mortality rate has been recorded the same as global average, for the first time, according to a report by UNICEF, WHO, UN Population Division and the World Bank Group. It has been estimated that in 2017, the sex-specific under-five mortality rate was 39 per 1,000 live births for boys and 40 per 1,000 live births for girls.
The disparities between the mortality rate of girl and boy child still exist. The under-five mortality of girl child is 2.5 per cent higher than the mortality rate of the male child. But the gender gap has reduced significantly over years, given that the difference was nearly 10 per cent in 2012. Globally, girl child survival rates are 11 per cent higher than boys.
As per the government data, the ratio of the boys and girls admitted to the sick newborn care units across the country is 60:40. Though the Ministry of family and Healthcare flagged the issue to the states, it doesn’t have much-expected results.
India has made a remarkable progress over the last five years with the introduction of several initiatives like Mission Indradhanush, Mother and Child Tracking System and neonatal ICUs in every district. As a result, for the first time, the number of deaths of children under five fell down below 1 million. But the current number 9,89,000 is still lurching.
The latest reports state that around one child under 15 years dies every five seconds around the world. But, in India, the share of global child deaths, for the first time, equals its share in the global birth rate.  India accounts for 18 per cent of global births, and now also 18 per cent of global child deaths following a steady decline from 22 per cent in 2012.
The global childbirth burden in 2017 was at 6.3 million children under 15 years of age, which means one in every five seconds. Another alarming fact is that these deaths were caused by preventable diseases. Around 5.4 million deaths occurred before the age of five in which half were newborns. But the number of children dying before five has fallen from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2017. The number of deaths in older children, aged between 5 to 14 years, has also dropped from 1.7 million to under a million in the same period.
Last year, Mission Indradhanush, which aimed at immunizing all the children under the age of 2 years and the pregnant women, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases has received praise for bringing down the number of pneumonia and diarrhoea infections, two biggest killers of children below the age of five. According to a report by the International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the mission has vaccinated about 25 million children in over 500 districts.
“India continues to show an impressive decline in child deaths, with its share of global under-five deaths for the first time equalling its share of childbirths. The efforts for improving institutional delivery, along with countrywide scale-up of special newborn care units and strengthening of routine immunisation, have been instrumental towards this. Even more heartening is the fourfold decline in the gender gap in the survival of the girl child over the last five years. The investment in ensuring holistic nutrition under POSHAN Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission), and the national commitment to make India open defecation free by 2019, are steps that will help accelerate progress further,” Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative, said.


   Send article as PDF