MP tops infant mortality list
STATISTICS ON infant deaths fly in the Madhya Pradesh Government’s face. The State accounts for the highest infant mortality rate (IMR)— 79 per 1000 — in the country. Only Orissa is below it with an IMR of 77 per 1000. .
Earlier Orissa topped the IMR list at 83 as against 82 of Madhya Pradesh. While the State managed bring down IMR by three points, Orissa has performed better on this count.
The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin of the Registrar-General of India, released in the last week of April, lists IMRs for all states and Union Territories as in 2004 (based on survey during 2002-04). This bulletin shows that though Madhya Pradesh recorded a drop of three points on IMR in 2004 against 82 in 2003, the efforts were not good enough.
The average national IMR dropped two points from 60 to 58.
Madhya Pradesh has a high IMR in rural areas at 84/1,000. As nearly three-fourth of the State’s population (73.5 per cent as per the 2001 census) live in villages, such a high IMR is alarming.
Though this figure too has dropped by two points against 86 in 2003, it is again highest in the country, way ahead of Orissa’s rural IMR of 80. In 2003, both the states had rural IMR at 86.
The best performer is perhaps Chhattisgarh that was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000. From an IMR of 70/1000, which was better than the parent state, Chhattisgarh has reduced its IMR to 60, a huge drop of 10 points.
States like Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that are often compared with Madhya Pradesh on poor health indices have performed better. Rajasthan shows a drop of eight points from an IMR of 75 to 67 and in Uttar Pradesh it has dropped four points from 76 to 72.
Principal secretary in the Women and Child Development Department Prashant Mehta told Hindustan Times that the matter was recently discussed in Delhi at a meeting of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.
He said the figures seem to be unbelievable as the malnutrition rate in the Madhya Pradesh has dropped in the last few years.
He admitted that although the IMR has dropped, the drop was not good enough, “Since it seems that we have become the State with highest IMR, we would undertake a detailed analysis to find out which districts are contributing most to the situation and then lay special emphasis on these areas,’’ the Principal Secretary said.
He added that a special drive would be undertaken to ensure better results during the next survey. Sachin Jain of Right to Food Campaign said the most important factor that keeps the State from achieving targets on such health indices is the basic lack of vision and clarity regarding implementation of and accountability on the schemes.
“A number of schemes are launched without doing proper groundwork on implementation. During last one year about nine health-related schemes were launched, but the situation is pathetic on the ground,’’ he said.
He gave the example of the recently launched Bal Shakti scheme to combat malnutrition, saying that in the field, NGO workers were confused about who the implementing department was (WCD or Health) and no funds had been released for them.