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Low spending on health behind child deaths in Rajasthan: Experts

An analysis by health activists shows per capita health expenditure in Rajasthan was one of the lowest in the country.

jaipur Updated: Nov 29, 2017 21:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Infant mortality rate,Rajasthan news,Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
An infant being examined by a doctor at a health camp in Jaipur. (HT File Photo)

Low spending on health is a major reason for high infant mortality, morbidity and malnutrition, experts said, emphasising that care of newborns is cost-intensive.

The state government submitted a report in the Rajasthan high court on Wednesday, mentioning 13,674 infant deaths from January to October this year.

Health centres require ventilator support, qualified doctors, and trained nurses to prevent infant deaths. An analysis by health activists shows per capita health expenditure in Rajasthan was one of the lowest in the country.

Infant mortality rate (IMR) in Rajasthan, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) 2016, was 41 per 1,000 live births; in 2015, the IMR was 43.

Out of Rs 21,188 crore expenditure on health in 2014-15, the state government spent only Rs 6511 crore, said Dr Narendra Gupta, Rajasthan convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan. Quoting a report of National Health Accounts 2014-15, released by the union ministry of health and family welfare, he said the Rajasthan government’s per head spending on health was Rs 2,943.

The government spends 30%, and 70% of the amount spent comes from private pockets, Narendra said. “With so low spending, healthcare cannot be managed.”

The main reasons for infant deaths are birth asphyxia, low birth weight, congenital diseases, infections, and diarrhoea. Birth asphyxia is a medical condition in which newborn does not get oxygen supply during the birth process.

Dr Narendra said, “All public health institutions of the state should be equipped with infrastructure and human resources to attain Indian public health standards by the end of 2018; out-of-pocket spending should be brought down to 40%, and handing over of government health institutions to private operators for management be immediately stopped.”

JK Lone hospital superintendent Dr Ashok Gupta said, “Low birth weight and premature baby are major reasons behind newborn deaths. Management of newborns is a cost-intensive process. It requires ventilator support, qualified doctors, and trained nurses among other facilities.”

Nutrition of adolescent girls needs to be improved and childbirth age upped to reduce newborn deaths, Gupta said. “There should be space between childbirths, and deliveries should be institutionalised. Adequate infant care and emergency services, referral support and proper transport system should be ensured.”

Principal secretary, medical and health, Veenu Gupta said Chirayu programme was launched in June this year at eight districts -- Barmer, Dholpur, Karauli, Jalore, Rajsamand, Sawai Madhopur, Sirohi and Udaipur -- to bring down IMR.

“Newborn services were strengthened at primary and community health centres, and district hospitals.”

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 21:08 IST