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Under-5 Girls Face High Mortality in India: UNICEF

  • 13 Jan 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released the ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ report. According to it, unlike global trends, India’s under-5 mortality of girls exceeded that of boys in 2018.

  • On average, boys are expected to have a higher probability of dying before reaching age-5 than girls.
  • The global report states that fewer countries showed gender disparities in child mortality in 2018.

Key Points

  • Countries primarily located in Southern Asia and Western Asia have a significantly higher risk of girls dying before age 5.
  • According to the report, half of all under-5 deaths in 2018 occurred in five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
    • India and Nigeria alone account for about a third.
  • Despite the tremendous progress in child survival made over the past two decades, one child or young adolescent died every five seconds in 2018.
  • The burden of child mortality is determined both by the mortality rate (the proportion of children who die) and by the estimated population of any given State (total number of annual births).
  • Current trends predict that close to 10 million 5 to 14 year olds and 52 million children under 5 years of age, will die between 2019 and 2030. Almost half of these under-5 deaths will be newborns.

Indian Context

  • The majority of child mortality cases in India are attributable to deaths during the neonatal period.
    • The major causes of neonatal mortality are preterm birth, intrapartum related events and neonatal infection.
    • In the post-neonatal period, the major direct causes of death are diarrhoea and pneumonia.
  • India’s neonatal mortality rate is 23 per 1,000 live births.
    • According to India’s 2017 Sample Registration System (SRS), the States with the highest burden of neonatal mortality are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, with 32, 33 and 30 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively.
  • Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand showed the largest gender gaps in under-5 mortality.
    • Uttar Pradesh is the state with the highest number of estimated newborn deaths in India, both because of the high neonatal mortality rate and because of the large number of births that occur every year in the State.

Steps to be Taken

  • It is urgently required to further accelerate progress in preventing child deaths by adopting proactive measures.
  • Deaths of newborns can be prevented by reaching high coverage of quality antenatal care, skilled care at birth, postnatal care for mother and baby, and care of small and sick newborns.

Source: TH

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