The latest health statistics have brought good news for Uttar Pradesh which is otherwise known for its abysmally high infant mortality rates (IMR) the number of deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births.
As per the Sample Registration Survey (SRS) bulletin of 2013,released earlier this month,the IMR of Uttar Pradesh has fallen by four points,from 57 per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 53 per 1,000 live births in 2012.
The IMR of India is 42,and UP with 53 is still amongst the top three states with highest IMRs,after Madhya Pradesh (56),Assam (55) and Orissa (53).
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However,UP and Orissa are the only two states in the country to register a fall of four points,the highest,in the last year. IMR for the country has reduced by two points – from 44 to 42 per 1,000 live births. While Assam has registered no fall,Delhi,Gujarat,Karnataka,Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan all have registered a fall of three points in their IMR.
The improvement is a consolation but a lot more still needs to be done,as we are much above the national IMR. However,the drop is important in terms of the number of lives we have been able to save, said Praveer Kumar,Principal Secretary,Health and Family Welfare,UP. The fall of four points in IMR roughly translates to around 20,000 to 21,000 more babies saved every year in the state.
The SRS bulletin for 2013 reflects the data collected for the year 2012,a difficult one for state health sector,what with health scam in NRHM unearthed the previous year.
Following the scam,the state NRHM took several measures to improve immunisation rates,institutional delivery as well as other health facilities like neonatal stabilising units in district hospitals and first referral units of the state.
A number of initiatives have been taken to improve both IMR and maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in 2013 as well,like ambulance services under 108 scheme,which has catered to around 12 lakh people so far already,half of whom were pregnant women, said Kumar,who is expecting a further improvement in IMR as well as MMR in the next bulletin. The principal secretary also said that the state government is in the process of revising the health targets so as to achieve the targets for 2017 long before.
With Scheme 102 for ambulances (awaited),institutional delivery will improve further. We are also training ASHA workers for better antenatal and postnatal care of pregnant women to help improve the IMR and MMR further, Kumar said.
In Uttar Pradesh,the rural-urban divide also plays a prominent role in infant mortality rate.
While 39 children below the age of one year per 1,000 live births in the urban area,died last year, 56 infants every 1,000 births lost their lives in rural parts of the state.