Home » Over 22,000 Infant Deaths in the Past 17 Months in Maharashtra

Over 22,000 Infant Deaths in the Past 17 Months in Maharashtra

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, July 30:

Nearly 22,751 infant deaths reportedly due to malnutrition have been registered in the last 17 months in different districts including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Nashik of Maharashtra.
22,751 infants in the age group-0-05 years died between January 2021 and May 2022 as per the RTI reply dated July 01, furnished by the Maharashtra State Family Welfare Department, Pune, to an NGO “Samarthan”. They deaths include 19,673 foeticides and 3078 child deaths.
Summarily the death figures are: Mumbai-1,898, Nagpur- 1,741, Aurangabad- 1,349, Nashik-1,127, Pune-1,181, Akola-1,049, Nandurbar-1,026 and Thane- Nandurbar-1,015.
Barring Nandurbar and Akola, all other districts are considered developed districts. Yet the rate of child death is nearly 43 % in these districts. Comparatively 64 child deaths were reported from Sindhudurg (Konkan), Washin-89 (Marathwada), and Latur (Marathwada)-125.
The detailed death figures are :Akola- infant deaths (0-01 year)-1033, child deaths (1-5 year)-61, Amravati- infant deaths (0-01 year)-711, child deaths (1-5 year)-126, Aurangabad- infant deaths (0-01 year)-1187, child deaths (1-5 year)-162, Mumbai city- infant deaths (0-01 year)-1170, child deaths (1-5 year)-147, Mumbai suburbs-infant deaths (0-01 year)-536, child deaths (1-5 year)-45, Nagpur-infant deaths (0-01 year)-1440 and child deaths (1-5 year)-301.
Sangli-infant deaths (0-01 year)-827, child deaths (1-5 year)-49, Dhule-infant deaths (0-01 year)-807, child deaths (1-5 year)-102, Nashik-infant deaths (0-01 year)-975, child deaths (1-5 year)-152, Pune-infant deaths (0-01 year)-912, child deaths (1-5 year)-169, Solapur-infant deaths (0-01 year)-836, child deaths (1-5 year)-163 and Thane-infant deaths (0-01 year)-887, child deaths (1-5 year)-128.
Ironically Maharashtra Government implements nearly 12 schemes to prevent malnutrition leading to child death. However, most of the schemes seem to have remained on paper without beneficiaries getting any benefit.
Some time back, Dr. Vijay Kelkar Committee had stated that in Maharashtra one in every ten children are born with low weight, and one in every three mothers of under two years old children record a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5, which increases the risk of low birth weight babies. Child survival indicators remain the last mile issue in tribal areas and urban slums.
“Besides, despite the State’s wealth, there are disparities in children’s development outcomes. The poorest 20 percent of children are twice as likely as the richest 20 percent to be stunted by poor nutrition and to die before their fifth birthday. The infant mortality rate of tribal areas in Maharashtra is 60-70 percent higher than the state average” the Kelkar Committee had surmised.
However, the statistic given by the Maharashtra State Family Welfare Department indicates that infant and child deaths encompass all segments, and child deaths are not restricted only to tribal areas.
Samarthan has suggested that a Taskforce be set up to take stock of child death vis-s-vis implementation of various welfare schemes. The urban and rural areas should be divided for this work so that proper solutions can be worked out.

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