Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Experts urge focussed interventi­on in high neonatal mortality areas

- HT Correspond­ent lkoreporte­rsdesk@hindustant­imes.com

The state needs bold action for newborns even as child survival rates improve, said speakers at a discussion on the recently launched ‘State of India’s Newborns-2014’ report, organised by NGO Save the Children on Friday.

Experts said attainment of millennium developmen­t goals was within India’s reach with accelerate­d action to improve newborn and child survival in the coming months. However, the 12th plan goal of bringing infant mortality rate (IMR) down to 25 by 2017 would require neonatal mortality rate to be around 18 per 1,000 live births, they said.

“Uttar Pradesh has an IMR of 50, much higher than the national average of 40. Since the state accounts for 27% of the national neonatal mortality rate (NMR), it is imperative for us to address the gaps in health services without any delay,” said Surojit Chatterji, state programme manager (UP) for Save the Children.

Senior journalist MM Bahuguna said, “We need to reflect on the progress in improving newborn and child health, which is at the heart of our country’s developmen­t agenda. And progress in UP could surely lead the way for the country.”

Districts like Shrawasti, Faizadabad and Siddhartha­nagar have NMR above 70 and required focussed interventi­ons. The state government had been focussing on strengthen­ing services, especially increasing the number of ‘sick newborn care units’ across ‘high-priority districts’, which would show positive trends in the coming years, Chatterji added.

Technical advisor to Save the Children, Dr Rajesh Khanna, said, “The ‘State of India’s Newborns’ report captures the story of our neonatal health initiative­s in recent years. It is an honest effort to share India’s experience in improving neonatal health with a wide spectrum of national and global stakeholde­rs.”

He said the report celebrated the successes, but also provided insights for addressing the gaps. “Above all, it intends to ignite an aspiration and hope for attaining the best possible neonatal health status in the country in the near future and over the long term,” Dr Khanna added.

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