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India’s neighbours debunk myths on reducing child mortality


New Delhi : Poverty is the biggest threat to children’s lives and the main reason why babies are dying at an alarming rate everyday, most of the respondents of a global survey contend. However, poor countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal have debunked this as myth by drastically reducing their child mortality rate over the last few years.

As many as 13 countries of the 14 covered in the survey by the international NGO Save the Children, including Australia, Canada, the US, India and Britain, said that poverty was the main threat to children’s lives and the reason for high child mortality.

The survey said globally nine million children under the age of five die every year. In India, 400,000 babies die within the first 24 hours of their lives every year – the highest anywhere in the world.

While India itself has made “insufficient progress” in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in the same domain.

“By increasing the coverage of immunisation, especially neonatal tetanus protection, provision of vitamin A supplements and oral rehydration therapy and family planning, Bangladesh is on track for MDG,” the report said.

According to statistics provided in the report, from a child mortality rate of 151 in 1990, Bangladesh brought it down to 61 in 2007. Its MDG on this front for 2015 is to reduce its child mortality rate to 50.

Even Nepal has been successful in bringing down the child mortality rate despite the political unrest. Since 1990, it has managed to pull down its child mortality rate by 50 percent.

Similarly Sri Lanka, by ensuring women’s empowerment and literacy and quality health care, has made such tremendous progress in this regard that it’s almost ensured that it will achieve its MDG by 2015.

India, however, has only managed to bring down the child mortality rate for children under the age of five from 117 to 72 over a period of 17 years. Its MDG goal is 38.