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Times of India
26 May 2010
BY Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

Infant mortality rate dips worldwide; India improves
Nearly 20 fewer children per 1,000 live births are dying in India now, before reaching 28 days of life, than they did two decades ago. As far as post–neonatal deaths are concerned, India is now losing 15 fewer lives per 1,000 live births than it did in 1990. Among children aged 1–4 years, nearly 30 fewer children are dying now than 20 years back.

According to a new study published in medical journal ‘Lancet’ on Monday, child deaths worldwide are falling faster than earlier thought. Scientists predicted that about 7.7

million children under five would die in 2010, down from nearly 12 million in 1990. The deaths this year would include 3.1 million neonatals, 2.3 million post–neonatals and 2.3 million deaths of children aged between 1 and 4.

According to a new research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, under–5 mortality has reduced by 35% since 1990. The global decline during the past 20 years is 2.1% per year for overall under–5 mortality and for neonatal mortality, 2.3% for post–neonatal mortality and 2.2% for mortality in children aged between 1 and 4. India is recording a nearly 4–5% annual decline in under–5 mortality. “We’re quite a bit further ahead than we thought,” said Christopher Murray, one of the paper’s authors and director of IHME. Murray and colleagues assessed information from 187 countries from 1970 to 2009.

They found that child deaths dropped by about 2% every year, lower than the 4.4% needed to reach the UN’s target of reducing child deaths by two–thirds by 2015. The study said 31 developing countries were on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal by reducing child deaths by 66% between 1990 and 2015.

In 1990, 12 countries had an under–5 mortality rate of more than 200 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today, no country has an under–5 mortality rate that high, according to IHME estimates.

Compared to India, Pakistan too hasn’t done a bad job. Against a neonatal rate of 54.8 per 1,000 births in 1990, it now stands at 42.7. As far as post–neonatal deaths are concerned, it has decreased from 36.2 to 24.3 per 1,000 live births. Bangladesh too has reported a favourable decline. Neonatal death rate has fallen from 64.5 to 31.3 while post–neonatal death rate has fallen from 37.9 in 1990 to 14 in 2010.

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