Dubious distinction: India 14th top in infant mortality

India has the 14th highest infant mortality rate (IMR) among 82 developing countries,concludes a paper on “causes of infant mortality: a cross country analysis”.

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai | Published: September 5, 2012 6:10 am

India has the 14th highest infant mortality rate (IMR) among 82 developing countries,concludes a paper on “causes of infant mortality: a cross country analysis”. The study by Pooja Shrivastava,a student of S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR),has been published in the first issue of the institute’s journal,Samvid . IMR is the number of deaths of children below one year for every 1,000 live births.

“The quantitative model has been used extensively in this study and the inferences drawn are unique,” said Debasis Mallik,a faculty at SPJIMR.

Counties in South-East Asia,such as The Philippines (18.75),Thailand (26.99) and Malaysia (14.57),Latin American countries such as Brazil (20.5) and Middle-Eastern countries such as Egypt (24.23) and even China (15.62) have lower IMRs. “Nearer home,Nepal (43.13),Bhutan (42.17),Sri Lanka (9.42) also have lower infant mortality rates. Even Bangladesh (48.99) has shown a rapid decline in IMR and is almost on a par with India (46.07). India’s IMR is more like one of the least-developed countries,” she said.

The findings are based on 2011 data. “IMR is often considered a summary indicator of socio-economic development of a country or region. This study uses publicly available data of 211 countries and advanced statistical techniques to dis-aggregate the impact of various health-,demography- and income-related factors on IMR. On analysis,the countries were segregated into three clusters — the least developed,developing and developed. India falls in the cluster of middle-income countries,” said Shrivastava.

“The data are from ‘CIA [Central Intelligence Agency-The World Fact Book’,and of 2011 or as per the last census of individual countries,” she added.

Shrivastava said the analysis reinforced that middle-income countries needed to make efforts both in health- and demograpy-related areas,besides focusing on income-generating activities to achieve a significant decrease in IMR. “So far as least-developed countries are concerned,they can achieve reduction in IMR by focusing on health and education parameters,” she said.

The findings reveal that India has a wide regional variation in IMR and as such,state-specific measures need to be taken to tackle the problem of high infant mortality. “A policy focus on healthcare and education,especially in rural areas,can contribute greatly to a decrease in IMR. India not only has a shortage of qualified doctors,especially in rural areas,but it also has virtually no intermediate-level healthcare providers. Introduction of medical courses at the intermediate level can help fill this gap,” she said.

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