India has 21% of global child mortality, 23% of Maternal deaths

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New Delhi, Dec 10 (UNI) Eventhough child mortality had declined to 9.7 million globally in 2006, India contributed 21 per cent of it with about 2.1 million children dying before the age of five years and malnutrition had emerged as the major cause responsible for 50 per cent of such deaths, according to a UNICEF report released today.

The report titled 'Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review' revealed that the under five mortality rate for India was estimated at 76 and if the country had to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of 38 by 2015, it had to increase the annual rate of reduction from the present 2.6 per cent to 7.6 per cent in the next nine years.

Each year around four million children die within the first 28 days globally and India contributed one million or 25 per cent of such neo-natal deaths. Worldwide 37 per cent of under five deaths were attributed to neo-natal causes and about 75 per cent of under five deaths in India were infant death. Also, about half of under five children die within four weeks of their birth.

India had the largest pool of children in the world who were never immunized. Of the 26 million children not immunized with DPT 3 globally, 11.5 million live in India, the report pointed out and recommended having more comprehensive immunization which included measles and DPT.

In India, an estimated 29 million children were engaged in labour while globally the figure of child labour was about 158 million, the UNICEF report pointed out and stressed the need for good quality education as a key to prevent the evil.

Moreover, 22 million or 44.5 per cent of women in the age group of 20-24 years reported that they were married before the age of 18.

Early marriage and motherhood was one the major reason for high infant and maternal mortality in the country.

The UNICEF had put the maternal mortality rate at 450 per one lakh live births with the country contributing 23 per cent of the global maternal deaths while the Indian government's figure were 301.

Asked about the wide difference in the two figures, the UNICEF said the earlier UN for MMR in India was 540 which had declined to 450. They clarified that an inter agency group of the World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO had estimated the number based on the government figures and the prevailing degree of uncertainity as maternal mortality was very difficult to quantify.

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