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Considerable progress on MDGs 4 and 5: Indian official

Feb 25, 2015

India has seen a 61 per cent decline in under-5 mortality rate since 1990, said Dr Rakesh Kumar, an official from the Indian Health Ministry.

New Delhi: India has made considerable progress on two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, said Dr Rakesh Kumar, Joint Secretary, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“India has made considerable progress on MDGs 4 & 5 with the introduction of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM). Ten Indian States have already achieved the MDG 4 targets,” he said.

Kumar was speaking during a National CSO Consultation on ‘Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health’. The consultation was organised by the RMNCH+A Coalition in collaboration with two nonprofits, Save the Children and White Ribbon Alliance India (WRAI).

Stressing on the need for better implementation of the existing guidelines, Kumar shared that that India had seen a 61 per cent decline in under-5 mortality rate since 1990, higher than the global average.

“We recognise that neonatal mortality, pneumonia and diarrhoea continue to be leading causes of under-5 deaths in India, attributing to about 80% of the overall under-5 mortality. With interventions such as continuum of care, reaching the unreached, improving quality of care, introduction of three new paediatric vaccines in the Universal Immunization Programme across 4 key States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, India plans to achieve improved results on MDG 4,” he said.

Kumar highlighted that schemes such as Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram and initiatives like access to skilled birth attendants, transportation access, sharpening the equity focus have enabled a higher rate of decline of maternal mortality rate in India by 71 per cent down from 560 in 1990 to 167 in 2013.

Kumar lamented that adolescent pregnancies continued to be an area of concern in India. “Initiatives such as delayed age of marriage, ensuring spacing at birth, adolescent health programmes such as weekly iron and folic acid supplements, adolescent friendly health clinics and schemes like the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme, the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram aim at achieving improved results,” he said.

Shireen Vakil Miller, Head of Policy, Save the Children, said India has persistently high rates of newborn mortality as the country accounted for 27 per cent of all newborn deaths globally, with 785000 newborn deaths a year. “India has made dramatic progress in bringing the under-5 mortality from 114 in 1990 to 50 per 1000 live births in 2012, showing a commendable decline of 58 per cent. Despite this, India represents some of the greatest challenges like inequity in seeing this revolution through,” she said.

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, World Health Organization, discussed the role of civil society in promoting the health of women and children.

“Civil Society Organisations play a critical role in budget tracking and advocating adequate spending to achieve improved child and women health indicators.”

Dr Aparajita Gogoi, the National Coordinator of WRAI, called on the civil society for the latter’s engagement in the setting up of the post 2015 agenda. “Progress can be accelerated through citizen engagement at every level of the health system and by ensuring responsiveness to deliver on commitments,” she said.

This National Consultation aims to ensure India focused inputs into the global strategy based on perspectives from the civil society organizations.

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