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India needs sharper focus to improve child survival

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Nearly 75% of newborn mortality can be reduced by improving access to affordable newborn and child care services and timely implementation of life-saving interventions.



India is committed to reduce under five mortality among children by two-thirds from 2015 to accomplish the fourth Millennium Development Goal. Approximately 1.7 million under-5 children die in India every year and a majority of them die within a month of being born. This represents about one-fourth of the global burden of infant and child deaths. India ranked first in world for accounting highest birth and deaths of U5 children within the year.


India ranks fifth in world with 28 per cent of infants born underweight. India has the highest population (48%) of underweight children below the age of five and nearly 500 million children lacking sufficient nutrition.

Appreciable progress has been made by India; however survival risk remains a key challenge for the disadvantaged who have little access to reproductive and child health services. India faces the enormous challenge of reducing infant mortality from 53 per 1000 live births to less than 30 by 2015.


The biggest reason for high IMR and U5MR is poor nutrition. Poor education, lack of breastfeeding and maternal mortality drive up child deaths, especially in the immediate weeks following the birth when they are most vulnerable to weakness and infection. Diarrhoea alone accounted for the deaths of nearly 98,000 children under the age of 5 years in India. The major causes include pneumonia, malaria, HIV and measles, but complications arising from their birth is the major problem of infant mortality in India. More than 1,000 babies die every day on their first day of life from preventable causes throughout India.


Child survival in India needs sharper focus. Nearly 75% of newborn mortality can be reduced by improving access to affordable newborn and child care services and timely implementation of life-saving interventions. India needs strong political will and funding for better management of neonatal and childhood illnesses and improving child survival, particularly among vulnerable communities.

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