India's Health Ministry would soon be launching a major initiative to reduce infant mortality rate in 80 districts of the country, it has been announced.
Under the scheme called The Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI), health volunteers, along with doctors and nurses, will be given training to promote child health, according to a senior Health Ministry official.
Under the scheme Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHAs) or health volunteers will co-ordinate with doctors and nurses in the 80 districts selected. They will ensure that basic health needs of infants are taken care of adequately and thus help reduce infant mortality.
'Our aim is to reduce infant mortality rate in the country. The first week is the crucial period for the infant as 50 per cent of the mortality occurs in this week,' the official has been quoted as saying.
In the initial phase, the scheme, which is part of the government's ambitious National Rural Health Mission, will be launched in five states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
Infant mortality rate is around 58 per thousand live births, while half of under-five deaths occur during the neo-natal period, it may be noted.
The scheme would focus not on a sick child, but on the critical, preventive and promotive aspect of the infant care during the early phase and thus improve the survival chances of the newborn, a leading doctor involved in the project has said.