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Child,maternal health conditions poor in India: UNICEF report

India has 20 per cent of the world’s adolescent population,that is,people between the age of 10 and 19.

Written by SURBHI KHYATI | Lucknow |
February 27, 2011 2:39:25 am

India has 20 per cent of the world’s adolescent population,that is,people between the age of 10 and 19. With 24.3 crore people in the country in this age group,India is home to the largest number of adolescents in the world. Yet,the health indicators of the country mirror poor maternal and child health conditions,along with practices of early marriage and childbirth during adolescence in the country.

This was highlighted by the report released by UNICEF on Friday about “The State of the World’s Children 2011”,along with the detailed economic and social reports of the world. As per the report,India has fared quite poorly in a number of health indicators for women and children.

While annual number of births per year in India is largest in the world,with 2.68 crore children born every year,the number of deaths of children below the age of five is also the highest in India,with 17.26 lakh children dying each year in the country.

As per the report,India ranks fifth from below on the list of countries with highest percentage of children born with low birth-weight. With 28 per cent of infants born underweight,India is above Mauritania,which has 34 per cent,Pakistan and Yemen,which have 32 per cent and Sudan which has 31 per cent low birth-weight babies.

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Moreover,India has the highest population of underweight children below the age of five,with 48 per cent of Indian children being underweight,says the report. Twenty per cent of children under the age of five years are suffering from severe or moderate wasting in India,which is the largest in the world. On the same note,8 per cent of under-five children suffer from severe or moderate stunting.

As per the UNICEF report,merely 13 per cent of pneumonia cases are given antibiotics for treatment. “The reason for this is that while our primary and secondary healthcare centers are quite far away,the children with pneumonia are generally taken to local unqualified people for treatment,who do not provide antibiotics as treatment,” said Dr Pavitra Mohan,senior health consultant,UNICEF,adding that in absence of timely antibiotic treatments,the patients might succumb to bacterial pneumonia.

Incidentally,merely 21 per cent of the children below the age of one get vaccination for Hepatitis B-3 in India,the coverage being second lowest after Canada,where its is 17 per cent. As per the UNICEF report,India is also home to an estimated 24 lakh HIV patients,the third largest in the world after South Africa (56 lakh) and Nigeria (33 lakh). Also,8.8 lakh women,above the age of 15,are affected by HIV in the country,and hence,are exposed to Mother to Child Transmission risk of HIV. Yet,merely 36 per cent of male and 20 per cent of female in the country have a comprehensive knowledge about HIV.

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