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India's healthcare indicators remain dismal: Economic Survey

Healthcare still lags behind Lanka, China and B'desh on parameters despite improvement in the sector, according to the survey.

business Updated: Feb 29, 2008 09:58 IST

Healthcare in India still lags behind countries like Sri Lanka, China and even Bangladesh on several key parameters despite some improvement in the sector, the Economic Survey for 2007-08 said Thursday.

"India's position on health parameters compared to even some of its neighbours continues to be unsatisfactory. While India has improved with respect to some important health indicators over the years, it compares poorly with countries like China and Sri Lanka," the survey said.

While India's maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births remains a high 450, it is 45 in China, 58 in Sri Lanka and 320 in Pakistan.

Similarly, infant mortality rate (IMR) in India is 56 per 1,000 live births against 12 in Sri Lanka and 23 in China.

Even Bangladesh fares better than India in infant mortality with 54 children dying per 1,000 live births. India shares its IMR with the landlocked country of Nepal and fares better than Pakistan (79).

The survey has revealed that 74 Indian children per 1,000 die before attending their fifth birthday as against 14 in Sri Lanka, 27 in China and 73 in Bangladesh.

Giving a comparative study of life expectancy in south Asian countries, the survey underlines that the average life expectancy in India is 62.9 years.

It is 72 years in China, 63.6 in Pakistan and 70.8 years in Sri Lanka.

Only Nepal (61.3 years) and Bangladesh (62 years) are behind India.

There has been some improvement in the quality of healthcare but wide inter-state, male-female, and rural urban disparities in outcomes and impacts continue.

Reproductive and child health services reach communities and households through the primary healthcare infrastructure in the country.

"Inadequacies in the existing health infrastructure have led to gaps in coverage and outreach services in rural areas," the survey noted.

However, it praised the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), a flagship programme of the health ministry, for improving rural health.

"NRHM has successfully provided platform for community health action at all levels. Through united and flexible financing, NRHM is trying to drive reforms that empower local communities to make their own decisions."