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Why Assam tops infant mortality rate in country

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

THE FACTSHEET
* IMR in 2013 was the highest in Assam and Madhya Pradesh each registering 54 deaths per 1000.
* In Odisha, it was 51 and in Uttar Pradesh it was 50.
* The tiol average is 40.
* In the previous study, Assam’s IMR was 58 compared to the tiol average of 47.

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, March 18: Assam has the dubious distinction of having the most number of infant deaths in the country.

According to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS), the Infant Mortality Rate in 2013 was the highest in Assam and Madhya Pradesh each registering 54 deaths per 1000 while in Odisha it was 51 and in Uttar Pradesh it was 50.

The tiol average is 40.

In the previous study, Assam’s infant mortality rate (IMR) was 58 compared to the tiol average of 47.

Though the IMR has been brought down considerably from 76 to 54 in the last 12 years, it continues to be the highest in the country and not even close to the tiol average.

Experts have blamed it on the lack of healthcare at the primary level. “There are two reasons for infant deaths – either the infant is born unhealthy or has been put in an unhealthy environment after birth,” says senior gynecologist Dr Pramod Kumar Sharma.

“Infant mortality is nowhere related to advanced science. It is about basic science and primary healthcare,” he says.

According to Dr Sharma, only one per cent of the cases are linked to genetic problems. The problem arises when there are congenital disorders.

“To check this problem, the government needs to focus its attention on the primary healthcare, especially the infrastructure and manpower at the rural level. The accessibility of healthcare and quality of nursing should improve,” he felt, also outlining the importance of awareness and education among the masses.

Senior physicians, whom this newspaper spoke to, blamed the State’s poor rural healthcare infrastructure for the high IMR. Many felt the government as well as the private sector is focusing more on the tertiary care rather than primary health care. “Unless, you basement and foundation is strong, no point in going for a highly developed top storey,” they said.

Official records say there is severe shortage of sub centres and paramedics staff besides paediatricians in rural Assam. While the required number of health sub centres is around 5,841, there are only 4,604 on ground.

There are just 109 community health centres as against the required 238.

There is a 50 per cent shortage of male health workers and health assistants in the rural areas. The available paediatrician in these rural centres are only about 20 per cent of the required strength.

Unless these statistics improve, it would not be easy to bring down the infant mortality rate.

According to another doctor, stress should be laid on basic health and hygiene – like washing hands, proper garbage disposal system, proper sanitation facilities etc which are key to a healthy life.

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