'At present, 1 child in 21 in India dies before his or her 5th birthday'

  • Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 17:45 IST

Even as India failed to meet targets set by the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce child mortality, it has successfully reduced mortality in children less than five years of age by 62%, a feat in itself, said experts.

MDG called for a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate between 1990 and 2015. The report stated that the world as a whole reduced its under-five mortality rate by 53% - from 91 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 43 in 2015.

“The under-five mortality rate in India dropped from 126 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2015 – a 62% reduction. But India still has relatively high under-five mortality rate in the world,” said Dr Danzhen You, author of the report, representing the latest estimates drawn by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation for infant and neonatal mortality up to the year 2015. The report was released globally on Tuesday. India was one of the signatories to MDG.

You added that in 2015, pneumonia and diarrhoea claimed a quarter of the 1.2 million under-five deaths in India. “These diseases are readily preventable or treatable with proven, cost-effective interventions. Prematurity and complications during labour and delivery account for more than a third of these deaths,” said You in an email to HT.

At present, one child in 21 in India dies before his or her fifth birthday – about seven times higher than in high-income countries where one in 147 dies, he said. Experts said that in India neonatal mortality - 28 deaths per 1,000 live births - is considerably higher than expected compared to other countries. Neonatal period refers to the zero to 27 days of life.

Globally, the report said that in the last two decades, 236 million children died before their fifth birthday. If efforts are not strengthened to improve child health, a projected 69 million children will die before they reach their fifth birthday till 2030. The said report was made from the data derived from the censuses and national family health surveys, and the sample registration systems which provides information on child mortality.

* Eleven children under five years die every minute globally
* One million neonatal deaths occur on the day of birth and close to 2 million die in their first week after birth
* Under-5 deaths have dropped from 12.7 million a year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. This is the first year the figure has gone below the 6 million mark
* Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania have all met the MDG target.

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