Hyderabad: Buoyed by the success achieved in a pilot project on reduction of infant mortality rate in Gachiroli district of Maharashtra by 67 per cent, the Central government has decided to implement similar strategy in five States including Andhra Pradesh.
Fast development in the medical field notwithstanding infant mortality rate continues to be higher in the country, worrying reproductive experts and health planners alike. Still 54 infants die for every 1000 live births in Andhra Pradesh while neighbouring States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have successfully reduced the infant mortality rate. The Centre wants the IMR to be further reduced in Andhra Pradesh at least by half in the next few years.
Reproductive experts attending the fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights have chalked out a strategy to bring down the IMR, which includes increase in the number of assisted deliveries and monitoring pregnant women right from conception till the passage of the neonatal phase.
According to Abhay Bang, director of the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health, they could bring down the neonatal morbidity rate in Gadchiroli through a low-cost home based model of primary neonatal care by training village women.
"In most homes in the villages, there is generally the mother, grandmother and the traditional midwife who assists a woman during child birth. We decided to introduce a trained worker to this team to make the process safer," he observed.
India still lags behind in achieving the target of universal sexual and reproductive health services by 2015, as fixed by the Cairo Declaration.
United Nations Population Fund executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid pointed out that South Asia had the highest rate of maternal mortality outside Africa and almost half of the world's maternal deaths occur in the region.
The other States where the IMR reduction programme will be taken up are Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.