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Emergent, integrated steps in Uttar Pradesh will slash child mortality in India

© UNICEF

Kulsum Mustafa

LUCKNOW, 30 January, 2008: Cold and hard statistics prod us to sit up, realize the gravity of the situation and take immediate action.

The issue is too vital to be ignored.  It requires immediate redressal, emergent solutions simply because it pertains to the very foundation of our society – the children.

T V Rajeswar, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of the country, was acutely conscious of this fact when he released, for Uttar Pradesh, UNICEF’s global flagship report – The State of the World’s Children 2008 – in the Governor’s House on Tuesday 29 January, 2008. This year, the report focuses on child survival.

In India one million children die within the first 28 days of life. This is one quarter of the four million global neo-natal deaths.

55 million or what is one third of world’s underweight children under five live in India.

Uttar Pradesh contributes 26.4 pc to India’s total mortality figure

Initiating exclusive breast-feeding within the first hour of birth alone can reduce 22 per cent neo-natal deaths.

Those present on the cold January afternoon included UNICEF’s Country Representative Dr Gianni Murzi, Uttar Pradesh State Representative Dr Nimal Hettiaratchy, and other key UNICEF and State Government officials.

“It is good to learn that the global statistics relating to child indicators have improved. We need to keep up the good work in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that children get full benefit of all welfare programmes and are able to reach their full potential in life,” said Mr Rajeswar while addressing the gathering.

He said he was happy to learn that UNICEF is working with the state government in the most disadvantaged areas of the state like Lalitpur.

Dr Murzi stressed the fact that Uttar Pradesh contributes over one fourth – 26.4 per cent –to India’s total child mortality.

“An improvement in Uttar Pradesh will have a major impact on the country’s overall indicator, and enable India to achieve MDG goal number four that pertains to reduction of child mortality,” said Dr Murzi at the release function.

On a positive note, Dr Hettiaratchy added, “The result of Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) intervention in select districts of Uttar Pradesh indicates that the strategy can potentially reduce child mortality as has been the experience in several other countries globally.”

While it cannot be denied that Uttar Pradesh has its fair share of problems and its child-related indicators are poor, it is also true that solutions are within reach.

Simple interventions like initiating exclusive breast-feeding within the first hour of birth can alone reduce neonatal deaths by 22 per cent. Community level integration of essential services for mothers, new born and sustainable improvements in health systems can save the lives of many innocent, helpless under-five children who die each day in the state and the country.

 

 

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