Grappling with the problem of skewed child sex ratio, Delhi Government on Monday partially blamed inadequate health infrastructure in neighbouring states for the decline in number of girls against per thousand boys in the city.
As per census 2011 data, Delhi's sex ratio of children up to six years of age has dropped to 866 girls per 1,000 boys from 868 girls in 2001. The child sex ratio of Delhi is much below the national average of 914 which has also seen a decline from 927 in 2001.
Delhi women and child welfare minister Kiran Walia said lack of proper medical infrastructure in neighbouring states forces pregnant women there to come to Delhi for delivery.
"In most of our hospitals, you will find 30 to 35% patients from outside Delhi. When women from the neighbouring areas come to Delhi hospitals and if a baby dies during or after delivery than it reflects on our statistics," she told a press conference, replying to a question on the issue.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written a letter to chief minister Sheila Dikshit in September expressing concern over the the city's child sex ratio.
Asked whether the government has any figures to support the claim, she said it was a fact that "huge number of women come from neighbouring states for deliveries and that death takes place during delivery."
Expressing deep concern overdrop in the sex ratio, Walia, however, also cited general prefernce for boys among a section in the society as another reason for the skewed ratio.
"The skewed sex ratio is a matter of concern for all of us. An adverse sex ratio can be a cause for serious socio economic problems. We are bringing out various schemes to improve the sex ratio," said Walia.
As per latest statistics, the number of babies dying in their first year of birth has also increased in the national capital in 2010 compared to the previous year.
The infant mortality rate per thousand live births in the national capital has increased to 22.47 in 2010 compared to 18.96 in 2009. The average IMR in the city was 12.08 deaths per 1,000 children in 2005 which increased to 18 in the year 2006 and then to 25 next year.
Walia said government has launched a week-long programme on January 18 to spread awareness in protecting the girl child. The awareness programme is being implemented with the help of 10,560 anganwadi centres across the city.
"The Delhi government has also entered into an MoU with UN Women to carry out various measures to improve safety and security of girls and women in the city," she said.
The minister said Delhi government in collaboration with Sun Foundation has launched a video van service to carry the messages relating to protection of girl child.
She said government plans to set up 'Awareness Celebration Centres' across the city which will work in educating people about protecting the girl child.
Walia said her department will lauch a deworming programme for children on February 21 under which all children below age of six years will be offered medicine free of cost.
"The programme is being conceived as it could be an effective health intervention. Worm infection affects a child's overall growth including education. So we have decided to start the programme," she said.