Survey report: Punjab pips Haryana in saving young lives
These findings were part of the Million Death Study (MDS), conducted from 2001 to 2015 in 1.3 million homes in India.punjab Updated: Sep 21, 2017 11:39 IST
Punjab and Haryana are part of India’s success story in saving young lives. The child mortality rates in the country have fallen by 62% from 125 per 1,000 births in 1990 to 47 per 1,000 births in 2015, slightly short of the Millennium Development Goal of a 66% reduction.
These findings were part of the Million Death Study (MDS), conducted from 2001 to 2015 in 1.3 million homes in India. The survey whose findings were published in The Lancet on September 19 pointed out that progress in the reduction of the current global total of 6 million child (younger than 5 years) deaths depends greatly on India, which accounts for about a fifth of the global total.
Punjab is leading the northern states in bringing down deaths in children under the age of five. In 2015, the state recorded 14,080 deaths in this bracket as compared to Haryana, which witnessed 22,877 deaths. Uttar Pradesh ranked the lowest with 316,198 deaths.
These numbers were also reflected in the National family health survey -4, which showed a fall in under-5 mortality rate per 1,000 births from 52 in 2005-06 to 33 in 2015-16. The fall in Haryana was less significant from 52 in 2005-06 to 41 in 2015-16.
Dr GB Singh, assistant director, department of health services, Punjab, attributed the improvement in child mortality figures to the robust immunisation programme promoted by the state. “At 90%, we are among the top three states in India. We have also set up a very good network of neonatal care units besides mother and child healthcare clinics,” said Dr Singh.
FALL IN FERTILITY
The fertility rates too have fallen in the corresponding period. At 1.64 children per woman, Punjab has the lowest fertility rate in the northern states followed by Himachal at 1.90, Jammu and Kashmir at 2.01 and Haryana at 2.13.
Dr Singh said the fertility rates in the state have reached the optimal “replacement level”. “This implies that the number of births in the state equal the number of deaths.”
“We have found that even pregnant women don’t take a healthy diet and focus more on not gaining weight.”
Listing the causes of child mortality, MDS found that the diseases prioritised under the National Health Mission had the greatest declines: pneumonia and diarrohea mortality fell by over 60%, mortality from birth-related breathing and trauma during delivery fell by 66%, and measles and tetanus mortality fell by 90%.
These declines were greater in girls, so that now India has, remarkably, equal numbers of girls and boys dying, which is a big improvement from just a few years ago.
LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
Interestingly, mortality rates due to premature or low birth weight rose in both Punjab and Haryana. The study pointed out that premature birth and low birth weight deaths are strongly linked to maternal and prenatal factors such as antenatal care, education, and anaemia.
National family health survey -4 corroborates these findings In Haryana, the incidence of anaemia (Hb less than 11 gram) among all women aged 15 to 49, has increased from 56.1% in 2005-06 to 62.7 % in 2015-2016. The percentage of pregnant women with anaemia in Punjab has gone up from 41.6% in 2005-06 to 42% in 2015-16.
Dr Singh blamed the anaemia on poor dietary habits among women. “We have found that even pregnant women don’t take a healthy diet and focus more on not gaining weight,” he claimed.
The study found that most deaths in India occur at home and without medical attention. Interestingly, deaths from injuries rose from the sixth rank to third rank. As many as 1,700 of the 69,000 injury deaths in 2015 were due to falls and about 1,400 (20%) were due to drowning, underlining the need to monitor children more carefully.