A survey by SRS in 2016 revealed that infant mortality rate (IMR) in the state went down from 47 deaths in 2015 to 44 in 2016. However, it is still much higher than the national average of 34.
IMR is the number of deaths of infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births in a year.
In the state, the neonatal mortality rate, which is the number of deaths within the first 28 days per 1,000 live births, also dropped marginally from 25 in 2015 to 23 in 2016.
However, deaths of children under five years of age or the under-five mortality rate showed the most drastic decline of 10 points in 2016.
The under-five mortality rate stood at 62 deaths in 2015 and went down to 52 in 2016. Further, the statistics also revealed that since 2013, the under-five mortality rate showed the most significant drop of 21 points.
But this indicator too remains considerably higher than the national figure of 39.
On the other hand, Assam’s perinatal mortality rate (PMR) stands at 20 which is lower than the national figure of 23. PMR is defined as the number of deaths within the first week of birth per 1,000 live births.
Recently, the state health and family welfare minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, had tweeted a comparative table showing five year rates of IMR, under-five mortality, neonatal mortality and perinatal mortality rates.
He wrote, “I take personal pride in these impressive figures on key social indicators. While we have achieved much we’ve miles to go and the BJP government is committed to constantly improve these indicators.”Initiatives to improve indicators
Officials at the National Health Mission (NHM) said that several initiatives are being implemented to ensure better results in the state on child health indicators.
Dr Narayan Sharma, consultant child health at NHM informed that one of their major focus areas is to emphasise on maximum number of institutional deliveries.
“A number of complications can be avoided if only the mothers deliver in a hospital with skilled staff. Even in home deliveries we are focussing on skilled birth attendants. Also after delivery, essential newborn care plays a vital role,” said Sharma.
He added that special newborn care units (SNCUs) in all district hospitals and medical colleges are playing a major role in newborn care. These are meant to provide intensive care to newborn babies.
In addition to SNCUs, paediatric intensive care units have also been recently established in three medical colleges till now, said officials.
Further, in a new intervention to improve maternal and child health, Kangaroo mother care (KMC) units are being established in SNCUs. This concept bases itself on skin to skin contact of the baby with the mother, considered especially beneficial for babies born with low birth weight or for premature babies.
Authorities said that six KMC units have been established till now and plans are firmed up to set up more such units across the state. However this practice has already begun in all district hospitals even without these units, they said.
Continuous training programmes are also being conducted for capacity building of frontline workers, paramedical staff and doctors, informed an official.
Hilly terrain and ignorance major challenges
Authorities say that a major challenge faced by them in bringing down the mortality rates has been overcoming the geographical barriers to make health services accessible in remote areas.
“It becomes difficult for the ambulances to reach a few places due to the hilly terrain and poor condition of roads. In such cases making the services available to people becomes an issue,” said Dr AC Baishya, executive director at NHM.
Further, officials informed that in tea garden areas, the social habits and customs also play a major role in determining the overall health of the community members.
“For instance, they have a practice of consuming excessive salt with all the meals including tea. High salt intake leads to hypertension which is also one of the reasons for high maternal mortality rate in the tea garden areas,” said an official.
Further, officials informed that in tea garden areas, there is also lack of awareness and misconception regarding the health practices as they do not prefer to go to the hospitals during ailments. In some places, manpower shortage has also hampered delivery of services.
Dr Baishya added that IMR and MMR reduction is an outcome of a comprehensive system comprising better ante natal care, qualified nurses, accessibility to vaccines, immunization.
By: SAUMYA MISHRA | Source: G-Plus