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In Mumbai: Experts raise stink as civic report claims 50% drop in infant deaths in 2 years

Senior neonatal expert from BMC says there is a possibility that data collected was erroneous, which has caused the drop in numbers

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2017 21:40 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,infants,deaths
Globally, the infant mortality rate has decreased from an estimated rate of 63 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 32 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015.(Representational photo/ Getty Images)

Data released by the municipal public health department has suggested that infant mortality rate (IMR) in Mumbai has halved in two years.

The Environment Survey Report (ESR) of 2017 revealed that IMR for Mumbai, which was 28.05 in 2014 and 23.16 in 2015, nearly halved [12.96] in 2016. IMR indicates the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children below the age of one. While 4,883 infant deaths were reported in 2014 and 4,575 in 2015, city hospitals recorded 1,982 infant deaths in 2016.

But public health experts have questioned the data, saying the drop of 2,901 infant deaths between 2014 and 2016 could be because of loopholes in data collection rather than results of an effective health policy.

“There is no silver lining to the statistics because that extent of drop takes place over a decade’s time, not in a year,” said Abhijeet More, convener, Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, an association of public health organisations in Maharashtra.

He added, “One reason to doubt the statistical change is — the health budget has not increased, community outreach programs haven’t expanded and no extraordinary effort was made by the health department to suggest better infant or maternal care.”

A senior neonatal expert from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said there is a possibility that data collected was erroneous, which has caused the change in Mumbai.

“Unfortunately, to maintain better records or protect the flow of funding and budgetary allotment, hospitals fudge records or don’t report every death. Also, data collection from all the periphery and tertiary hospitals is not prompt to give a clear picture,” he added.

Speaking to HT, a senior official from BMC’s health department said that they will have to revaluate the statistics to confirm the steep drop in IMR.

“There is a drop in IMR, but if it is 50%, it is something we need to check. Since I don’t have access to the data right now, I wouldn’t be able to comment on the issue,” said the official.

When HT called Idez Kundan, assistant municipal commissioner (Health), BMC, she said she was abroad and will not be able to comment.

Statistics from World Health Organisation (WHO), puts Africa (55 per 1000 live births) top in the list with over five times higher IMR than that in the WHO European region (10 per 1000 live births).

Globally, the infant mortality rate has decreased from an estimated rate of 63 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 32 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015.

According to the National Family Health Survey 4, 2015-16, IMR in India is 29 in urban areas and 46 in rural areas. Corresponding figures for Maharashtra are 23 in urban areas and 24 in rural regions. Kerala has the lowest IMR, with 6 infant deaths per 1000 live births in urban areas and 5 in rural regions.

First Published: Sep 17, 2017 21:40 IST