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Under-5 mortality rate: India matches global average but behind Bangladesh, Nepal

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New Delhi, Nov 13: India has done well to match the global average when it comes to under-five mortality rate (39 deaths per 1,000 lives) but the rate of infant and neonatal deaths and the performance of some of her neighbours indicate that tackling the newborns' health remains a challenge, according to a new survey.

Under-5 mortality rate: India matches global average but behind Bangladesh, Nepal

While the number of deaths of children aged below five has gone down by 30 per cent since 2012 (from 1.4 million to 989,000), infant deaths (dying before they reach their first birthday) went down by 26 per cent (1.09 million to 802,000) and neonatal deaths (dying the first 28 days) decreased by 22 per cent (779,000 to 605,000).

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These data are among the findings of a report released in September by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. The UN Children's Fund, World Health Organisation and World Bank were also involved in generating country-specific estimates of the rate of child morality.

In 2017, the infant mortality rate in India was 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to the global average of 12. In case if neonatal mortality rates, too, India had 24 per 1,000 live births while the global average remained 18.

However, the states in India have seen a big divide in terms of healthcare indicators like infant mortality. In states like Goa and Kerala, the infant mortality rate is similar to European countries while in states like Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, the rates are like those found in Afghanistan and Haiti, a report in IndiaSpend said in 2018.

The under-five mortality rates in Bangladesh and Nepal, both of which have a lower per capita income than India, are 32 and 34, respectively, which is better than India's 39. Sri Lanka has a rate of just nine but its per capita income is also higher than India.

In 1990, Bangladesh and Nepal had worse under-five mortality rates than India (144 and 140 respectively, as against India's 126) but went ahead of their bigger neighbour subsequently, IndiaSpend reported.

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