Despite the infant mortality rate recording a fall in recent years, the medical fraternity in India is still concerned over the prevailing double-digit mortality rate among infants.
The infant mortality rate has decreased from 68 to 57 per 1,000 births in the country. But, reports say that only 41 per cent of women deliver in hospitals and clinics, the rest still deliver at home. Consequently, one-third women and their babies are deprived of post-natal care within two days of delivery that leads to neo-natal deaths.
In India, two-and-a-half million babies die on an average before they turn five years of age. Of these, 1.25 million die in the neo-natal stage; within the first 28 days of birth.
According to neo-natal specialists of the country, it has been observed that lack of basic facilities required for pregnant women and the newborn cause these deaths.
Medical experts related to the National Neonatology Forum recently assembled in Kolkata during a seminar to create awareness about care of newborns, as there is growing concern about the existing double-digit rate among infants.
Dr. Bikash Bhattacharya, a member of the National Neonatology Forum, on the occasion stated that though infant mortality rate has reduced but still there's a long way to go.
"In our country neo-natal mortality rate is still very high. It is around 37 per cent and 38 per cent. That is huge, whereas in western world they are all in single digits, that's a big difference. But then there is lot of encouragement, only a few years back it was around 50 to 60 per cent. So we have brought it down to at least half of that. But still miles to cover to achieve single digit," said Dr.Bhattacharya.
According to Dr. Bhattacharya, the death rate in India has come down over the last decade, but the country still has a long way to reach the single digit rate of developed countries.
"Of the 57 babies on every 1000 deaths, 37 die within first 30 days of birth. The Government is making efforts but in rural areas women still deliver at home making neo-natal care difficult. In urban areas, where women reach hospitals for delivery and where facilities are there for every possible complication during birth or in the baby, the infant mortality rate is much lower," said Bhattacharya.
Poverty, lack of proper intake of nutrition by pregnant mothers especially in rural areas are stated to be among the many causes leading to premature, infected, low weight babies which invariably leads to deaths.
"Just after birth the baby needs warmth, warm welcome, it needs breast-feeding and separation from others to prevent infection. These are three main things a baby needs. And out of 95 babies will survive if you provide these. Only five per cent babies may go deteriorated, and they need high techniques like ventilator ... We emphasize more on the prevention of infection," said Asim Mullick, Assistant Professor at the B. C. Roy Hospital in Kolkata.
Neelam Kler, neo-natal specialist of Sir Gangaram Hospital stated that with simple measure for mother and childcare can prevent neo-natal deaths.
"Unfortunately, in India, though we are developing economically but the health of women and children is sill not optimum. The deaths during the childbirth they accounts for about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of all the deaths of all the death in the world, the global deaths," said Kler.
"And so are the deaths of children under the age of five years, and majority of these deaths are neo born deaths, deaths during the first month of the age. These deaths can be prevented by simple measures, by simple interventions, which can be done at the community level," Kler added.
It was informed through the Forum that auxiliary nurses working in the rural areas are being trained through workshops and conferences to generate confidence and awareness in the expectant mothers.
"The auxiliary nurses working in the rural sectors are being trained through workshops and conferences to generate confidence and awareness in the expectant mothers. The aim is to motivate the mother to deliver at a hospital and if that's not possible than the basic neo-natal care is ensured in the home environment," said Surekha Sama, Principal, School of Nursing, Dindayal Upadhyay Hospital.