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379 kids die every day in MP; UNICEF report says disadvantaged most vulnerable

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Special Correspondent

BHOPAL: Shocking it may seem but such is the poor quality of health services that 379 children under the age of five die every day in Madhya Pradesh.

Nearly every second child (42%) is stunted which impacts life outcomes at all stages be it education, earning capacity or maximising opportunities. As far as education is concerned, 10.14 % children drop out in Madhya Pradesh at Primary level & 11.70 % at Upper Primary level, he said.

In its latest State of World’s Children (SOWC) report, launched simultaneously across globe including Bhopal, it is mentioned that poverty, illiteracy and early deaths await world’s most disadvantaged children.

During the release of the SOWC report in Bhopal, Manish Mathur, Officer In Charge, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh said that state level health data shows that every day 379 children under age of five years die in Madhya Pradesh.

“This is why we we need to specifically focus on reaching the most disadvantaged children first,” Mathur said. The report was formally launched by MP minister of state for education Deepak Joshi said that it is important and democratic to listen to children and with engaging communities will help make children schemes a success.

He listened to children who were present at the programme and said that he will look into the concerns raised by them. Gauranshi, Savita, Sonu and Bipin Sen were children who shared dias with the dignitaries.

Making the right choices now can, and will, reverse this fate, it says. The report and its messages are of extreme importance to Madhya Pradesh as it has critical situation in context of children’s health, survival and development.

Chairman of the State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (SCPCR) Raghvendra Sharma and chairman of NGO Child Rights Observatory of MP, Nirmala Buch also spoke on the occasion.

The SOWC, UNICEF’s annual flagship report, paints a stark picture of what is in store for the world’s poorest children if governments, donors, businesses and international organizations do not accelerate efforts to address their needs.

The report notes that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty. Global under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990, boys and girls attend primary school in equal number in 129 countries, and the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half of what it was in the 1990s. 

Indian scenario

The report mentions about 1.2 million children under 5 years of age died of preventable causes in India in 2015. India is among the five countries accounting for half the 5.9 million under-five deaths reported across the world last year.

The other four countries are Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan, whose economies are smaller when compared with India’s.

The report also says that despite being in fast lane for global economic growth countries like India and Nigeria have been in the slower lane for child mortality reduction, adding that ‘the policy lesson is that economic growth can help but does not guarantee improved child survival.’

In India, premature and neonatal birth complications (39%) were the biggest killers followed by pneumonia (14.9%), diarrhoea (9.8%) and sepsis (7.9%) among others.

Though India’s under-five mortality rate -- deaths per 1,000 live births -- has improved to 48 from 126 deaths in 1990, it still has a lot of catching up to do, says the SOWC

Since Madhya Pradesh reports highest infant mortality and among highest under-five mortality in India, the context is more important for the state.

Photo Courtesy: Rakesh Malviya