India’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has been going down, the drop higher every successive year since 2003, according to the latest figures from the Home Ministry’s Registrar General of India.
The latest drop is around 6 per cent — from 53 deaths per thousand live births in 2008 to 50 in 2009. Between 2005 and 2006, it was 2 per cent.
Officials credit the UPA’s flagship programme, National Rural Health Mission. “We need to continue the trend,” said a Home Ministry official.
The period 2008-09 has seen a drop in nearly all major states but a few small ones and UTs have seen a marginal jump in infant deaths. These include Meghalaya, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, where around 2 per cent more infants died than in the previous year.
States where infant deaths have dropped include Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where infant mortality was usually a concern. Bihar’s IMR dropped from 56 in 2008 to 52 in 2009, and UP’s from 67 to 63. “The results are encouraging and we expect the IMR will come down further,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Indian Express.
The Ministry has asked the RGI to do a yearly survey of states where health indicators are poor, such as UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttarakhand and Assam. The shortlist comprises 284 districts. “This could help us make special policies for those states, districts to be precise. We will now know the bad and the good districts. We will get results for IMR, immunisation, institutional delivery,” Azad said.