India's Average Infant Mortality Improves, But Some States Lag Behind
New health data show reductions in child mortality but some states have worsened
Kolkata: Between 2019 and 2021, 35 children below the age of one year died for every 1,000 children born, 15% fewer than the 41 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015-16, show the latest health data from India's national survey.
The infant mortality rate is not only a result of medical factors such as health infrastructure, antenatal care, maternal health, postnatal care, immunisations and the overall preventive health system but also of deeper social problems such as malnutrition and sanitation, we had reported in January 2020.
Though India's average infant mortality rate (IMR)--infant deaths before one year for every 1,000 live births--has fallen, it has increased in some states. In addition, despite reduction in IMR, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of infant deaths per 1,000 births at 50, followed by Bihar (47), Chhattisgarh (44) and Madhya Pradesh (41). These states, along with Uttarakhand, also have the highest neonatal (within 28 days of birth), infant, as well as under-five child mortality.
Sikkim, Puducherry, Kerala and Goa have among the lowest rates of neonatal, infant and child mortality rates.
We look at the three main indicators of infant and child mortality in this data visual based on the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
Data from NFHS-5 for 22 states and union territories (UTs), that were collected between June 1, 2019 and January 30, 2020, were released in December 2020. The second phase of the survey was conducted between January 2, 2020 and April 30, 2021, and its data released on November 24.
India's average neonatal mortality rate (NMR)--deaths in the first 28 days of life for every 1,000 births--fell from nearly 30 deaths in 2015-16 to 25 deaths in 2019-21.
The greatest improvement (based on the percentage change) was in Sikkim, while the highest increase was in Tripura.
The IMR has fallen in all states except five--Meghalaya, Manipur, Andaman Nicobar Islands and Tripura and Haryana. The greatest improvement was in Puducherry.
Puducherry had the greatest improvement while Tripura had the highest increase in percentage terms.
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