Nation Other News 24 Aug 2016 Kerala’s human ...

Kerala’s human development index same as in 1996: Unicef

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Aug 24, 2016, 1:01 am IST
Updated Aug 24, 2016, 7:12 am IST
Unicef logo
 Unicef logo

Thiruvananthapuram: That Kerala is far ahead in terms of human development is old story. The infant and maternal mortality rates to be achieved in 2030 as part of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the state has achieved way back in 2005. But these achievements mask a sustained failure. In the last two decades, the state’s human development gains have stagnated, even worsened. “20 years before, infant mortality rate (number of infant deaths per 1000 live births) has been 11 for Kerala. Now, it is 12,” said Mr Job Zachariah, chief of Unicef Office for Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He said that it was high time the State initiated measures to bring down IMR to a single-digit figure.

“Relative to the all-India IMR average of 40, Kerala’s is commendable. But Kerala needs to compare itself with developed countries,” Mr Zachariah said. For United States of America, IMR is 6.1; for Britain, it is 4.2; for Japan, 2.13. The state’s relatively low IMR could also be deceptive. The Unicef  chief said that an IMR of 12 meant that 6000 children die annually in the state before they reach five months. “The unfortunate thing is, most of these deaths could be prevented,” Mr Zachariah said.    Thiruvananthapuram: He said children in the state did not die of any serious illnesses like pneumonia or malaria or measles or diarrhoea, like in other parts of the country.

According to him, they mainly died of two causes: mother’s anaemia and congenital heart disease. He said anaemia could be prevented at home, by taking the right amount of food and liquids. He said 25 percent or 1500 children die an average annually as a result of CHD. “For this we require more infrastructure,” he said. Right now, the operation is conducted only at Sree Chithra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology. “But only 800 children can be operated a year at SCTIMST. The waiting list is as large as 2000,” Mr Zachariah said.

The other big worry is that only 64 percent of children in the state are fed breast milk within one hour of the delivery. The UNICEF chief said this was odd because 100 percent of births in the state take place in hospitals. “So it will not be much of a task to get 100 percent of infants fed breast milk within an hour,” he said. If this was not happening, he said caesarian sections were to be blamed. Caeserian sections should not be more than 15 percent according to international standards, but in the state it is nearly 50 percent. “After the caesarian section, the mother is kept in a separate room for more than an hour depriving the child of breast milk,” he said.

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