A new study in The Lancet Global Health has flagged the deaths among children under five in India, which was higher than in any other country in 2015. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also found large disparities in the child mortality rate between richer and poorer states.
While India reduced annual mortality among children under five from 2.5 million in 2000 (90.5 per 1,000 live births) to 1.2 million in 2015 (out of 2.5 million live births, or 47.8 per 1,000), it was still the highest in the world. Among the states, the highest mortality rate, in Assam at 73.1 per 1,000, was more than seven times that in Goa’s 9.7. Among the regions, the mortality rate ranged from a low of 29.7 per 1,000 (South) to 63.8 (Northeast).
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set in 2000 was to reduce the under-five mortality rate in 2015 to one-third of the 1990 figure. For India, that would have meant reducing the under-five mortality rate to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The analysis found that although most under-five deaths were due to preterm complications, preventable infectious diseases featured prominently as causes of death in higher-mortality states. “India can accelerate its reduction of under-five mortality rates by scaling up vaccine coverage and improving childbirth and neonatal care, especially in states where mortality rates remain high,” said study author Li Liu.