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Kounteya Sinha,TNN Feb 2, 2012, 02.41 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Goa and Kerala seem to be the best place to be born in India, while Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha are the worst.
According to the latest Union health ministry data, Goa recorded the lowest infant mortality rate — 10 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, followed by Kerala at 13. MP recorded the highest IMR at 62, followed by UP (61) and Odisha (61).
MP, which has the highest IMR, also recorded the largest dip along with Himachal Pradesh, by five points between 2009 and 2010. According to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) data, the figures augur well for the entire country.
IMR has dropped further by three points from 50 to 47 infants deaths per 1,000 live births during 2010.
The IMR for rural areas has dropped by four points from 55 to 51 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, while the urban rate stands at 31 from the previous 34/1,000.
Urban IMR was the highest in Chhattisgarh and UP – 44 infant deaths per 1,000 births.
States like Assam with an IMR of 58, Bihar (48), Chhattisgarh (51), Haryana (48), Madhya Pradesh (62), Odisha (61), Rajasthan (55) and Meghalaya (55) still have IMRs more than the national average of 47.
In Maharashtra, 28 children died per 1,000 live births, whereas Delhi's IMR stood at 30. West Bengal's IMR was recorded at 31 (as against 33 in 2009) and Tamil Nadu's at 24 (28 in 2009).
Around 11 states have shown decline of more than the national average decline (dip of more than 3 points). These include Bihar (from IMR of 52 in 2009 to 48), Gujarat (48 to 44), MP (67 to 62), Odisha (65 to 61), Punjab (38 to 34), Rajasthan (59 to 55), Tamil Nadu (28 to 24), Himachal Pradesh (45 to 40), Meghalaya (59 to 55), Sikkim (34 to 30) and Tripura (31 to 27).
Dr Ajay Khera, deputy commissioner child health and immunization, said, "One of the main reasons for this dip in overall IMR is the attention states have given to neonatal health. Another factor has been the setting up of 340 sick and new born child units (SNCUs) and 9800 newborn care corners."
According to the Union ministry's plans, all district hospitals will have a SNCU to handle critical neonatal cases over the next five years. They will mainly cater to children born at full term with low birth weight.
Low-birth weight babies have a greater risk for developing respiratory symptoms, including wheezing, coughing and pulmonary infections that increases their chances of mortality.
Of the 2.6-crore births in India annually, 23% of the babies are low weight (below 2.5kg). Survival rates of low-weight babies are as high as 85%, if brought to a SNCU "on time".
Union health secretary P K Pradhan told TOI that this year alone 100 SNCUs would be put in place — almost double of last year.
In 2006-07, 36 SNCUs were set up, followed by 39 in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and another 38 in 2009-10. Rajasthan has 36 SNCUs, MP (33), Gujarat (31), Karnataka (29) and Tamil Nadu (41).
SNCUs will target critical neonatal cases, and the poorest among poor will be able to access them. The facilities will be equipped with latest machines for pediatric care, including radiant warmers, oxygen concentrator, infusion pump, apnea monitor and electronic weighing machines, treating acute cases like birth asphyxia, premature birth, neonatal jaundice, neonatal septicemia, complications of low and extreme low birth weights.
"Each SNCU will have an ICU complete with 12-16 beds, 16 trained nurses and three pediatricians working in eight hour shifts. It will cost Rs 40 lakh to set up each unit," Pradhan said.
Neonatal (NMR) deaths are one of India's major health challenges. The ministry has also started a home-based newborn scheme to reduce the high NMR, where Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) will visit the homes of new mothers six times in 42 days to encourage safe newborn care practices and early detection and free referral of sick babies.