India’s infant mortality rate declined by 8% in 2016, according to latest government data. From 37 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, it has decreased to 34 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016, shows data from the Sample Registration Survey bulletin, which was released on Friday.
The number of children born in 2016 was below 25 million, a first for the country, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said. The country has also reduced infant deaths from 9.3 lakh in 2015 to 8.4 lakh in 2016.
“The difference between female and male infant mortality rate has also reduced to less than 10%, giving a major boost to the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme of the government,” the ministry said. Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner In-Charge (Child and Adolescent Health) in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare attributed this reduction to the gradual change in social systems like late marriages and fewer teen pregnancies, according to Mint.
The infant mortality rate reduced in 29 states and union territories, and increased in five, while it remained steady in two, reported Mint. The lowest infant mortality rate was reported in Goa at 8, followed by Kerala and Puducherry, at 10 each. The highest was in Madhya Pradesh – where it was 47 – followed by Assam and Odisha, with 44 each.
The figure in Chandigarh declined by seven points, the most in the country, while Arunachal Pradesh saw the highest increase, of six points.
“Countrywide efforts to increase the health service coverage” through better initiatives have led to these “remarkable achievements in merely one year”, the ministry said. Khera added that the increase in the number of institutional deliveries has also led to the decline in infant mortality rate. “In 2005, only 38% deliveries were taking place in hospitals; but now, more than 79.8% are institutional deliveries,” Khera said.