More infants died in the capital than in any other metro city within a year of their birth, a study has found.
As many as three million babies died within the first 28 days of being born and a million babies died within the first 24 hours of their birth across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata between 2010 and 2012, it said.
The NGO - Save the Children, conducted a survey - ‘Ending newborn deaths, ensuring every baby survives’ across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata between the year 2010 and 2012.
Delhi had the worst infant mortality rate - the death of a child before less than one year of age (IMR) -- among 4 metro cities between 2010 and 2012. However, the IMR has come down from 30 to 25 per 1000 live births in the last few days. The progress in reduction of neo natal mortality rate - death during the first 28 days of life (NMR) -- still has been slower.
The findings of the report also suggest that in Delhi, of all children dying before their first birthday, 64% die within the first 28 days of their birth.
Child specialists in Delhi hospitals, however, say, that to dub these figures as purely Delhi figures will not be entirely correct as a good percentage of these infants belong to other states and come to the Capital for treatment.
“It is obvious that only critically sick babies come to Delhi for treatment due to lack of quality tertiary care facility in some of our neighbouring states. In our hospital, 40% babies are from outside Delhi and are very sick,” said a senior doctor in the department of paediatrics at Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Hospital.
Lok Nayak Hospital has two nurseries, one for the babies born in the hospital and the other for babies from outside the capital. The latter has 25 beds and at any given day is full with very sick babies, out of which 40% are from outside Delhi.
While there has been significant progress on ensuring child survival in India, the fact that nearly 40% of neo-natal deaths occur on the first day of birth in the country is stalling progress on achieving millennium development goal-IV. Incidentally, India accounts for an astounding 29% of the global deaths of newborns on their very first day of birth.
“About half of these newborn deaths can be prevented if every mother and baby had access to free and quality health care,” said Sajit Menon, the NGO’s Delhi State programme manager.