Steadily Falling Infant Deaths Show a Sudden Rise in '09
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13 February, 2010
According To A Unicef Report, 65% Of The Fatalities Occur Within 28 Days Of Birth
Of the infants who died in 2009, 2,738 were female while 3,128 were male. The maximum number of deaths was recorded in May at 742. Comparatively, fewer deaths were registered in February and March.
Since 2006, the number of infant deaths recorded by the BMC kept dropping every successive year.
While 6,218 infants died in 2006, 5,892 died in 2007. Details received under the RTI, which was filed by Chetan Kothari, show up that the maximum number of deaths took place in the M–East Ward at 920, followed by 493 deaths in the L Ward.
In fact, the recent Human Development Report (2009), prepared by the National Resource Centre for Urban Property and the All–India Institute of Local Self–Government, Mumbai, with support from the UN Development Programme, the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation and the BMC, pointed to the fact that the M–East Ward, which includes Deonar, Anushakti Nagar, Trombay and Mankhurd, was ranked the worst.
In fact, of the six wards in the eastern suburbs, five were below the city’s human development measure (HDM) average, including the L Ward, which includes Kurla.
Meanwhile, the RTI figures also show that the number of births fell last year compared with those in the earlier year. While 1,75,298 births were recorded in 2009, 1,82,759 were registered in 2008. Experts said the deaths are directly proportional to the population.
Explaining that the population at the M–East Ward and the L Ward has been significantly increasing, Dr Gourish Ambe, the civic executive health officer, said, “The socio–economic condition in the two wards is not very high either. The slum population in these areas is about 80–90%.”
Ambe, though, emphasied that the rise in infant deaths by a mere 100–odd number is not significant. “The population of the city increases every year. If the death figures are touching 5,000 or 6,000, a difference of a few 100 is not significant,” he said.
However, social experts still see this as a significant increase. “Although the population increases, and there is a new entry of migrants, an increase by 100 deaths is still high. One thing is true, that there is no sign of decline of mortality,” said professor R N Sharma of the Centre for Development Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). “It’s not surprising that most deaths are in the M–East Ward because it has become the dumping grounds of the poor.”
About the decrease in the number of births, Sharma said that the authenticity of the figures should first be established. “It is difficult to comment on this because one is not sure if they are real or projected figures,” he said.
A Unicef report titled The State of the World’s Children 2009 showed that while Maharashtra fared better than several other Indian states, the statistics were alarming – 149 of every 1,00,000 women who go into labour die during childbirth, and 65% of the total deaths of infants under five years of age occur within 28 days of their birth.
Dr Indu Khosla, paediatrician who practised in Andheri, said that 30% of infant deaths occur, as early neo–natal deaths.
“Mostly, they die immediately after birth, or within a month after birth. The common causes are asphyxia, prematurity and retardation in growth,” said Khosla. “Then, the common causes of death within the year since birth are respiratory infections such as bronchiolosis and pneumonia, followed by diarrhoea and dehydration,” Khosla added.