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UK gives India $490 mn to curb child deaths

Britain will give Rs 20 billion in aid to India to help reduce the number of children dying before their fifth birthday.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2007 21:23 IST

Britain will give Rs 20 billion ($490 million) in aid to India to help reduce the number of children dying before their fifth birthday, a British statement said on Wednesday.

About 136,000 women and 2.4 million children die every year in India as a result of preventable causes, according to the World Bank.

"India has gained a reputation as a major economic superpower. But we should not forget that one in three Indians survive on less than 50 pence a day," Britain's Minister for International Development, Gareth Thomas, said in a statement.

"Only one in four children from India's poorest families are immunised against killer diseases compared to three in four from the richest."

The statement said the aid would go to three of India's 29 states -- Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh -- and would be used to improve healthcare for socially excluded groups like lower castes, ethnic groups and minorities such as Muslims.

The funds would also be used to ensure that when mothers give birth, a doctor or nurse is available to provide medical back-up -- giving them and their babies a much better chance of survival, the statement said.

Groups with a high risk of contracting AIDS such as commercial sex workers and injecting drugs users would also benefit from expanding education programmes that teach them how to protect themselves.

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