Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday unveiled a vision document to cut the state’s infant and maternal mortality rates.
Assam’s infant mortality rate (IMR) is 58 compared to the national average of 47. The maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 390 is similarly much below the national average of 212.
“Our rate of improvement in economic growth during 2001-2010 was sixth highest among all states. But we have a long way to go when it comes to social indicators. Though we have brought down IMR from 76 to 58 in the last 10 years, which is still behind the national average of 47. The MMR too has been brought down from 490 to 390 during this period, but we are nowhere near the national average of 212,” Gogoi sad.
The chief minister said his government has accorded topmost priority to development of women and children. “The vision document thus encompasses areas such as safe drinking water, school enrolment, sanitation, reservation for women and prevention of crimes against women,” he added.
Gogoi also underscored the high prevalence of malnutrition and anaemia among girls and women. Coupled with a high percentage of girls marrying below 18 years of age, these were major factors for high IMR and MMR in Assam, he said.
Approximately 67.8% of adolescent girls (15-19 years) are anaemic in Assam.
The vision document quoted DLHS-III (2007-08) as saying that about 40% women in Assam in the age-group of 20-24 years married before the legal age of 18 years. Though this is less than the national average of 42.9%, the increase in mean age of marriage for women had a cascading effect on maternal and child health in the state.