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Infant deaths at Ahmedabad civil hospital highlight Gujarat's sorry statistics on infant mortality, malnutrition

As national attention was focussed on the death of 18 children over three days at the civil hospital in Ahmedabad last month, officials said most children were underweight and thus vulnerable.

That defence spotlights the fact that Gujarat — which is ranked second by industries and fifth by per capita income — is ranked 17th among 29 states on infant mortality and 25th by underweight prevalence among under-five children.

The NICU ward of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital where 18 infants died last week. PTI

The NICU ward of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital where 18 infants died last week. PTI

Up to 33 infants die per 1,000 live births in Gujarat, compared to Kerala (12), Tamil Nadu (19), Maharashtra (21) and Punjab (23), according to the Sample Registration System Statistical Report 2015, the latest available data.

Up to 39 percent of children in Gujarat are underweight — the national average is 35 percent — compared to 16 percent in Kerala, 21 in Punjab, 23 in Tamil Nadu and 36 in Maharashtra, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, the latest available data. This makes Gujarat fifth from bottom, with only Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand faring better.

Smaller states such as Mizoram (11.9 percent) and Manipur (13.8 percent) and bigger states such as Kerala (16 percent), Punjab (21 percent) and Tamil Nadu (23 percent) all have lower proportions of underweight children.

Gujarat is India's second-most industrialised state by gross valued added, its state gross domestic product is the fourth-highest in the country, and it is ranked fifth by per capita income, according to government data.

Gujarat's infant mortality rate (IMR), or infant deaths per 1,000 live births, is an outlier compared to its economic indicators, as is its under-five mortality rate, by which it ranks 18th, with India's top five being Goa (13), Kerala (13), Tamil Nadu (20), Maharashtra (24) and Manipur (26).

Courtesy: Reserve Bank of India and National Family Health Survey 2015-16

Gujarat, which is ranked fourth based on state domestic product, is ranked 17th on infant mortality, behind poorer states such as Manipur (22), Arunachal Pradesh (23) and Tripura (27).

Gujarat has a per capita income of Rs 1,22,502, better than Maharashtra (Rs 121,514) and Kerala (Rs 119,763). However, its child health indicators lag Maharashtra and Kerala on all three parameters — underweight children under five, infant mortality and under-five mortality.

Jammu and Kashmir, with a per capita income of Rs 60,171 — 50 percent lower than Gujarat — has lower infant mortality (26) and under-five mortality (28).

Nearly 1.08 million Indian children under the age of five died in 2015, an average of 2,959 deaths a day or two every minute — many of them of causes that were preventable and treatable, IndiaSpend reported on 16 August, 2017.

India has reduced its IMR by 68 percent in the last 41 years, from 130 in 1975 to 41 in 2015-16, IndiaSpend reported on 3 May, 2017, quoting data from the National Family Health Survey 2015-16. India's IMR of 41 deaths is worse than than poorer neighbours Bangladesh (31) and Nepal (29).

Deaths of infants at public hospitals is a nation-wide issue, revealing the depth of the crisis in India's public-health system, IndiaSpend reported on 29 August, 2017. This year, 52 infants died over 30 days at Jamshedpur's Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College hospital in Jharkhand, two weeks after 70 children died at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

IndiaSpend is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit/ is fact-checking initiative, scrutinising for veracity and context statements made by individuals and organisations in public life

Updated Date: Nov 02, 2017 09:53 AM

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