Quantum jump in India’s Under5Mortality rate of decline: GhulamNabi Azad
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Quantum jump in India’s Under5Mortality rate of decline: GhulamNabi Azad

Three Day International Summit for Child Survival and Development begins in Mammallapuram

CHENNAI, India 07 February 2013 - Shri GhulamNabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare today inaugurated the Call for Action Summit for Child Survival and Development at Mammallapuram, Tamil Nadu. Shri Azad said that it is encouraging to note that India’s Under five Mortality Rate has declined much faster than the global average and that there has been a quantum jump in the annual rate of decline.

“India shall remain in the forefront of the war against child deaths and do everything that it takes, to ensure that no child dies of a cause that can be prevented” he reiterated. He said “this progress has also encouraged us to expand our horizons and reach children in all possible spaces - at birth, in hospitals, in anganwadis, in schools and in communities, to not only improve child survival outcomes but also ensure overall quality of life of our children through innovative service delivery mechanisms”.

The Minister also said that our biggest challenge lies in bringing down neonatal mortality which accounts for 55% of our under 5 mortality. “We now have well equipped 401 Sick Newborn Care Units, which are admitting over 4lakh sick newborns every year and saving almost 90% of them. The number of both SNCUs and admissions therein is increasing at a very fast pace” he added.

The new initiative of home based new born care through ASHAs has also started to roll out and with effective implementation would yield promising outcomes with regard to child survival. A strategic approach paper to Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health +Adolescent and operational guidelines documents were also released at the inaugural session of the Summit.The Minister also announced that states will now be able to receive additional funding for sector wide reforms from the incentive fund under NRHM .He also cautioned that failure to make progress on fundamental imperatives may attract disincentives.

Shri Gandhiselvan, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that the nation’s progress in child and maternal health indices has indeed been commendable.

In her address, U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell said that the United States government is committed to working alongside the Government of India to promote the agenda of global child survival, nutrition, and development.  She confirmed that the United States government will remain actively engaged in supporting the Government of India as it addresses crucial areas such as newborn care, polio eradication, etc.

Ms Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director pointed out that the rural urban gap in child mortality has been narrowed and that this represents improved equity in health care. She pointed out that a score card system for the states to evaluate their own progress has also been evolved.

On the side-lines of the summit launch, Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “Under five mortality is a sensitive indicator of a country’s socio-economic development and has been a focus area for the Government of India over the past several decades. Today’s launch of India’s Call to Action for Child Survival and Development demonstrates a renewed commitment of the Government  and intensified action of all stakeholders for ensuring that children have the best start in life and thrive beyond their fifth birthday. “

The inaugural session was also addressed by Dr Robert Black of the John Hopkins School of Public Health, ShriKesav Desiraju, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare and Dr Rakesh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Over 300 delegates are taking part in the three day summit, being organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in collaboration with the USAID and UNICEF. India was a co-convener along with the United States of America and Ethiopia for the Washington - Call to Action Summit in June 2012.

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