Bhopal: Over 1,400 newborns have died in three tribal-dominated districts in Madhya Pradesh over the last one year because of malnourishment and poor public healthcare facilities in the region.
Government hospitals in Jhabua and Ratlam districts — which border Gujarat — have reported the death of 742 and 643 infants in last one year.
According to data on infant deaths in government hospitals, Khandwa district, which has one of the 12 prime Shaivate pilgrimage centres, Omkareshwar, has witnessed the death of 245 newborns in one year.
A government hospital in one of the three districts has recorded the death of 61 infants in last 40 days.
“A majority of infants admitted in the district hospital were brought in critical conditions. Some of them had even weighed less than one kilogram,” said Anand Chandel, a civil surgeon.
Most infant deaths were reportedly caused by malnutrition and respiratory problems.
Incidentally, Madhya Pradesh has recorded highest infant mortality rate of 47 per 1,000 births in the country against the national average of 33 per 1,000 births.
Experts blame poor heathcare facilities in the state, especially rural areas, for higher infant mortality.
“Nearly 85 per cent posts of child specialists in government hospitals in the state are vacant, while 25 per cent health worker posts are yet to be filled up,” said Sachin Jain, who has been working in the child healthcare space in Madhya Pradesh.
The child healthcare attracted national attention after hospitals in Rajasthan and Gujarat reported higher infant mortality in December.
Apart from poor healthcare facilities in the country, especially in rural areas, a Unicef report claims that the percentage of infant deaths in the country is highest among mothers aged under 20 and those who are not literate....