Andhra Pradesh tops the list for the highest infant mortality rate in the country. Dr Alice CB Setti, a practicing community paediatrician from UK on a visit to the GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, reportedly stated the same and blamed the black of political will and total neglect of neonatal health for the same.
While delivering a special lecture, she said, “Infant deaths can be prevented with attention towards infant care including colustrum feeding as well as prevention and early treatment of infections. The AP government should adopt the methods implemented in Maharashtra and Kerala to lower the mortality rate.” She also said that attempts have to be made to reduce the number of children born with low birth weight.
She pointed out how despite India’s success with Information Technology, it has lagged behind in terms of health benefits, especially so in Andhra Pradesh. She encouraged the notion that doctors should take up infant mortality reduction as their prime area of research.
But none of this news is new, as even back in 2014, both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were ranked top in the list of highest infant mortality, even before Jharkand and Uttarakhand. It was reported that 41 out of every 1000 newborns die in these states before reaching the age of one.
An undivided AP was listed at the bottom of South Indian states with low IMR, also comprising of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, on the ‘State of India’s Newborns – 2014’ survey. An undivided AP has lagged behind in other five key elements as well – neonatal mortality rate (death from birth to 28 days, per 1,000 live births), early neonatal mortality rate (death from birth to seven days), late neonatal mortality rate (death from eighth day to 28 days), post neonatal mortality rate (death from 28 days of birth to 364 days), and under five mortality rate (number of children dying before the age of five/ 1,000 live births in a year).
While Telangana has later managed to improve their IMR as compared to Andhra Pradesh, bringing it down to 28 for every 1000 births this year, Andhra Pradesh still stands at 35, with not much change. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, the IMR of urban AP stood at 20 and in rural areas at 40. Telangana launched a Telangana Newborn Action Plan to help curb the issue, being successful at reducing both the maternal and infant mortality rate.
It waits to be seen how the Andhra Pradesh government will take steps to ensure the health of mothers and infants at least this year.