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Binod Dubey, Hindustan Times
Patna, October 22, 2012
Patna: Bihar has significantly improved its record in infant mortality rate. The sample registration system (SRS) survey report of the government of India, which has just come in, registers a sharp fall in the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the state. With a mortality of 44 infants per 1,000 live births, Bihar has now matched the national average for IMR and left behind several states, including UP, Rajasthan and MP in improving the indices.

The SRS Bulletin, October 2012, indicates that IMR in Bihar declined by 12 points in the last three years--four points per year.

The state has also improved its record in respect of the death rate. As against the national average of 7.1, Bihar's latest figure for death rate is 6.7--a huge improvement.

It is far better than many of the advanced states in the country, including Kerala where the death rate stands at 7.0.

Social scientists believe that these indicators point towards the rising wellbeing of the Bihari society.

The reduction in IMR would also have a positive bearing on state's efforts to stabilise the burgeoning population, they felt. Assured of the wellbeing of their infants, mothers might now feel encouraged to voluntarily go for family planning, they opined.

Executive director of state health society (SHS) Sanjay Kumar, who along with the then principal secretary, health, Amarjeet Sinha had chalked out several strategies to improve the health indicators, told HT on Sunday that many factors played a role in the loweing of the IMR.

Prominent among them, Kumar said, were an increase in routine immunisation, sharp rise in institutional deliveries by skilled birth attendants in government facilities and setting up of the new born care corners at the level of the PHCs.

Also, people's easy access to health facilities and rebuilding and strengthening of ASHA and ANMs' capacity to take care of the basic health of rural women and children decidedly played a major role in reducing the IMR, said the ED.

He said the state was making endeavours to further reduce the IMR to 30 by 2015, which more or less meets the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

Apart from strengthening existing facilities, the government has planned to take up some new initiatives to achieve the goal.

"In addition to the new born care corners, the government has decided to set up new born stabilisation units and special care new born units at the level of the sub-divisional and district hospitals respectively," he said.