Over 60 Percent Of Child Deaths In India Avoidable

Over 60 Percent Of Child Deaths In India Avoidable

Over 60 Percent Of Child Deaths In India AvoidableDespite advancement in the health care system, thousands of children in India do not live long enough to celebrate their fifth birthday. India not only has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world, more than 60 percent of these deaths are preventable, says a study published in the current edition of the popular British medical journal The Lancet.

The authors of the study wrote, “Each of the major causes … can be prevented or treated with known, highly effective and widely practicable interventions such as improvements in prenatal care.” The study was led by the Registrar General of India.

According to the survey, the five major causes of child deaths in India are low birth weight and prematurity, pneumonia, diarrhea, birth trauma, birth asphyxia and neonatal infections. At least one of these five factors is associated with three out of every five child-deaths in the country.

Despite gradual decline in the infant and under-five mortality rates in the country, more than 20 per cent of children who die before their fifth birthday are from India. In 2005 alone, about 2.35 million children below the age of five died in the country.

However, most of these deaths were avoidable. A well-designed immunization program combined with proper neonatal care could prevent a significant number of child deaths. While evaluating the cause of 24,841 deaths, the investigators found that most children in India die at homes without medical care.

Another startling revelation made by the survey is that baby girls, compared to male children, have 36 per cent greater risk of dying before the age of five. This is a shocking picture of the India social structure that prefers a male to a female child. Despite availability of vaccines in the health facilities, fewer girls are taken to the health centers to be immunized against deadly diseases. Fortunately, through the outreach programs, in which health workers visit households to vaccinate kids, a larger number of girls are receiving vaccinations nowadays.

Nonetheless, the study revealed that girls in central India have a five-fold risk of dying from pneumonia than boys in south India. They had four times greater risk of dying from pneumonia.

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