In the period from 2005–15, government spending on public health increased and more women were encouraged to give birth in hospitals. As a result, the child mortality rate in India has significantly reduced.
One million children under the age of five are alive in India as a result of a reduced mortality rate between 2005 and 2015. Three states in India, namely, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, saw a faster decline in child mortality. According to The Hindu, a study published in The Lancet said,
“If all states of India had achieved the declines seen in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, nearly all states of India would have met the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.”
However, at the same time, deaths due to premature births or low birth weight saw an increase from 12.3 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 14.3 per 1,000 live births in 2015. The study published in The Lancet was part of the Million Death Study, one of the largest studies of premature deaths in India, conducted by interviewing one lakh parents who have lost a child. According to Firstpost, Dr Prabhat Jha, one of the authors and head of the Centre for Global Health Research at St Michael’s Hospital, said,
“Hundreds of specially trained census staff in India knocked on the doors of more than 1.3 million homes to interview household members about deaths. Two physicians independently examined these ‘verbal autopsies’ to establish the most probable cause of death.”
If India wants to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for child mortality, this decline needs to be maintained. This doesn’t mean concentrating on the health and well-being of the children alone but giving special attention to the mothers at the same time.
Campaigns and awareness programmes should ensure a decrease in the number of child mothers who, because they are likely to be anaemic, give birth to anaemic children. Simultaneously, more women should be encouraged to give birth in hospitals which would help in vaccinating newborns.