India loses 5,753 children below five years every day — four a minute. That contributes to 21 per cent of total deaths in the world, said a UN report on children, released on Tuesday.
Terming the figures scary, UNICEF representative in India Dr Gianni Murzi, said the country was caught in a paradox between poor child survival rate and 9 per cent economic growth. “Time is full of promise for the Indian child if all unite to fight to this battle,” he said.
The UNICEF’s State of World’s Children Report 2008 said about 20 per cent of these children die within an hour of birth and another 30 per cent within 28 days. Pneumonia kills most children in India — about 2 million — followed by diarrhoea. Of those who survive, about 46 per cent are malnourished. “Everyone, from the Prime Minister downwards, are worried,” said Dr M.K. Bhan, secretary Department of Science and Technology, who wanted a national campaign to fight child malnourishment.
India comes in at 49 among 191 nations on the under-five-mortality rate with Sierra Lone topping the ranks with maximum deaths and Sweden at the bottom with least. India’s record is worse than its less developed neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal, who rank 55 and 63 respectively. India is better only than Pakistan, which has been ranked 42. South Asia is slightly better than west and central Africa, but lags behind all other regions.