Updated: January 4, 2020 7:27:56 am
Rajasthan’s infant mortality rate (IMR) has reduced significantly since 2014, but its IMR of 38 deaths per 1000 live births, as of 2017, is still higher than the national average of 33.
In 2014, the IMR in Rajasthan was 46 per 1000 live births, which has declined at a rate of 17.4 per cent, against the national average of 13 per cent. However, of the 16.5 lakh births in Rajasthan each year, an estimated 62,843 babies die. This translates to the state contributing 8 per cent of all infant deaths in the country — according to government data, the only other states with a higher IMR are Arunachal Pradesh (42), Madhya Pradesh (47), Assam (44), Uttar Pradesh (41), Meghalaya (39) and Odisha (41).
This is why Rajasthan is a high-priority state under the National Health Mission for improving child survival in the country.
In the state, every district has at least one special neonatal care unit (SNCU), which is a fully-equipped paediatric ICU meant for newborns up to the age of 28 days (neonates). They are an integral part of India’s plan to control infant mortality.
Last year, when the Health Ministry undertook an assessment of the 30-odd worst performing SNCUs in the country, three from Rajasthan featured in the list. However, Kota’s J K Lon Hospital — where around 100 infants have died over the past month — did not feature.
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Data from SNCUs shows that death rates at J K Lon in 2019 were twice that in the rest of the state. In 2019, a total of 1,04,209 newborns were admitted in the 60 SNCUs in Rajasthan with a reported mortality of 10.5 per cent. In comparison, J K Lon Hospital admitted 3,087 newborns with a mortality rate of 20.2 per cent — an increase from the 14.3 per cent in 2018.
“Last year we analysed data from SNCUs and visited the worst performing ones. Three from Rajasthan were in that list… But J K Lon, Kota did not feature there. We have flagged the shortages at J K Lon but it is also a fact that SNCUs, especially those attached to medical colleges, get very sick babies…” said a senior health ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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