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Indian Express
08 September 2010
New Delhi, India

CHILDREN from the poorest communities in India are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of five than those from high income groups, a recent report has revealed.

The new global report ‘ A Fair Chance at Life’ by international child rights organisation 'Save the Children' says reductions in child mortality in India and elsewhere in the world appeared to focus on children from better–off communities leaving children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds behind.

Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million children die before their fifth birthday. Half of these deaths occur within a month of the child being born (the neonatal period), says the report. The under–five mortality rate in Kerala is 14 deaths per 1,000 live births. This stands at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1,000, 91 per 1,000 for Uttar Pradesh and 89 per 1,000 for Orissa.

These inequalities are also marked in respect of newborn mortality rates. While the rate for Kerala is 7 per 1,000, the comparable figures for Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa are 48, 45 and 47.

In 2008, 5.3 lakh children under 5 died in the lowest income quintile in India in comparison to 1.78 lakh among the highest wealth quintile.

The rate of decline in under–five mortality rate between 1997–98 and 2005–06 among the lowest income quintile is 22.69% compared to 34.37% among the high income quintile for the same period.

"The 41% decline in child mortality over the last nearly two decades masks a dangerous expansion of the child mortality gap between the richest and poorest families in India," said Thomas Chandy, CEO, Save the Children.

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