London : Almost half of the districts in India are not on track to reduce the mortality rates of newborns and meet the target set under the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, a study has found.
India still has the world’s highest number of deaths among children under five and newborns, around 1.1 million per year.
The study, by Jayanta Bora and Nandita Saikia from Austria-based non-profit international institute for applied systems analysis, is the first to evaluate neonatal and under-five mortality at a district level in India, as well as a state level.
Under the World Health Organisation’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3), all countries should aim to reduce neonatal mortality to 12 deaths per 1,000 live births per year, and under-five mortality to a maximum of 25.
Researchers used data from the national family health survey, a survey of the full birth history of women aged 15-49, carried out most recently in 2015-16, and used the data from the previous round conducted in 2005-06 to model future trends.
The picture, however, is very complex. For example, the under-five mortality rate for boys in the South West district of Delhi is 6.3 per 1,000 live births, well within SDG3 targets. However, in Rayagada in Odisha, the mortality rate is 141.7. The researchers found that just nine per cent of districts in India overall have so far reached the SDG3 targets for neonatal mortality, with 14 per cent reaching the targets for under-five mortality.
The vast majority of the worst performing states on mortality rates are in the poorer states of north-central and eastern India, although there are some high-risk districts in richer, more developed states such as Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.