Around 1.2 million children in India could have been saved in 2015 had the basic minimum sanitation and healthcare facilities been provided for, says the UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2016 that was released today.
Dispelling the idea that economic growth means better conditions for children, the report added, “Some countries on the fast lane for global economic growth – including India and Nigeria – have been in the slower lane for child mortality reduction”.
India – along with Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan – account for more than half the 5.9 million children who died last year before attaining the age of five years.
Around 39% were babies who died due to complications during birth. Most of the rest, the report said, died from diseases like malaria and diarrhoea, which are easy to control, but have become prime killers through lack of proper sanitation and access to healthcare.
Though no data was available, the report suggested that child marriage and subsequent teen pregnancies could be a key reason for the neo-natal deaths.
Worldwide, the other causes of children’s deaths included pneumonia, meningitis, tetanus, measles, sepsis and AIDS.
The report suggested that the overwhelming majority of child deaths can be prevented through well-known, low-cost and easily deliverable interventions and facilities like sanitation, holistic nutrition and women’s reproductive health management.
The report quoted research published in The Lancet, which estimates that 40 per cent of neonatal deaths could be averted with key interventions around the time of birth.
These include care by a skilled birth attendant, emergency obstetric care, immediate newborn care (including breastfeeding support) and newborn resuscitation. Another 30 per cent could be saved through “kangaroo mother” care, in which the baby is kept with skin-to-skin contact and prevention of infections, among other measures.