In India, 9 hundred thousand newborn infants are dying each year. This means more than one child is dying every minute. Over 55% of children under the age of two do not receive comprehensive routine immunization in India. Approximately 2.7 million children under the age of five receive no treatment for diarrhea, one of the major causes of childhood mortality. Of 25 developing countries, India has the highest number of children who do not receive even the most basic of healthcare services. Under-nutrition, respiratory infections, lack of immunization and poor healthcare facilities are the underlying causes of these newborn deaths.

The Crisis

Maternal Health

  • Globally, about 800 women die every day of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; 20 per cent of these women are from India.
  • Annually, it is estimated that 55,000 women die due to preventable pregnancy-related causes in India.
  • Mothers in the lowest economic bracket have about a two and a half times higher mortality rate.

Neonatal, Infant and child Health

  • Each year in India there are 1.34 million deaths of children aged under five; 1.05 million infant deaths; and 0.748 million newborn deaths. India accounts for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the world’s neo-natal deaths.
  • The states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar contribute to more than half of newborn and under-five deaths in India.
  • More than half (56 per cent of under-five deaths happen in the first 28 days of life and nearly three-quarters of these newborn deaths occur in the first week of life.
  • The major causes of newborn deaths in India are pre-maturity/preterm birth (35 per cent); neonatal infections (33 per cent); intra-partum related complications/ birth asphyxia (20 per cent); and congenital malformations (9 per cent).
  • India’s Neo-natal Mortality Rate (NNMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Under-five Mortality Rate (U5MR) stand at 29, 40 and 52 respectively.
  • In the post-newborn period, most deaths occur due to preventable diseases and infections like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles. Only around 39 per cent of children are fully immunized.

Infant and Young Child feeding

  • Only 46 per cent of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed, and the proportion of children under six months who are exclusively breastfed decreases with age – from 69 per cent in the first and second months to 28 per cent in the fifth and sixth months of life.
  • Only a little more than half of Indian infants aged six to nine months receive some kind of complementary foods in addition to mother’s milk.
  • In India, only one child in five (21 percent) between 6-24 months is fed optimally, i.e. fed as per the recommended practices. Only 35 per cent children are fed foods from a minimum number of foods groups and 42 per cent are fed a minimum number of times.

Malnutrition in India

  • Malnutrition can be described as the unhealthy condition that results from not eating enough healthy food.
  • According to a 2005 report, 42% of India’s children below the age of three were malnourished. It is considered that one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.
  • The estimates varies within the country. It is estimated that, Madhya Pradesh is having the highest rate, 55% and Kerala the lowest with 27%.Although India’s economy grew 50% from 2001–2006, its child-malnutrition rate only dropped 1%, lagging behind countries of similar growth rate.

Child malnutrition

Just as with serious malnutrition, growth delays also hinder a child’s intellectual development. Sick children with chronic malnutrition, especially when accompanied by anemia, often suffer from a lower learning capacity during the crucial first years of attending school. Also it reduces the immune defense mechanism, which heightens the risk of infections. Due to their lower social status, girls are far more at risk of malnutrition than boys their age. Partly as a result of this cultural bias, up to one third of all adult women in India are underweight. Inadequate care of these women already underdeveloped, especially during pregnancy, leads them in turn to deliver underweight babies who are vulnerable to further malnutrition and disease.

Different forms of malnutrition

  • Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), also known as protein-calorie malnutrition
  • Iron deficiency: nutritional anemia which can lead to lessened productivity, sometimes becoming terminal
  • Vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness and a weakened immune system
  • Iodine deficiency, which can lead to serious mental or physical defects.

High infant mortality rate

  • Despite health improvements over the last thirty years, lives continue to be lost to early childhood diseases, inadequate newborn care and childbirth-related causes. More than two million children die every year from preventable infections.
  • Approximately 1.72 million children die each year before turning one.
  • Reduced funding for immunization leaves only 43.5% of the young fully immunized.
  • Shortages of healthcare providers, poor intra-partum and newborn care, diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections also contribute to the high infant mortality rate.

Poor sanitation

  • More than 122 million households have no toilets, and 33% lack access to latrines, over 50% of the population (638 million) defecate in the open. (2008 estimate).
  • Only 11% of Indian rural families dispose of stools safely whereas 80% of the population leave their stools in the open or throw them in the garbage. Open air defecation leads to the spread of disease and malnutrition through parasitic and bacterial infections.

Women health issues

Maternal deaths are similarly high. The reasons for this high mortality are that few women have access to skilled birth attendants and fewer still to quality emergency obstetric care. In addition, only 15 per cent of mothers receive complete antenatal care and only 58 per cent receive iron or folate tablets or syrup.

Women’s health in India involves numerous issues. Some of them include the following:

  • Malnutrition: The main cause of female malnutrition in India is the tradition requiring women to eat last, even during pregnancy and when they are lactating.
  • Breast Cancer : One of the most severe and increasing problems among women in India, resulting in higher mortality rates.
  • Maternal Mortality: Indian maternal mortality rates in rural areas are one of the highest in the world.

Initiatives under Heath

“Light-a-Life” Initiative

It is about enlightening rural lives through community behavior towards traditional health practices, generating the demands...
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Impact Through Inititatives

  • Health Center initiatives have been a huge success for gathering people
  • More than 79% Improved involvement in (Integrated Child Development Services-ICDS) Anganwadi Centers.
  • Massive improvement in birth registration coverage.
  • Reduction in malnutrition and increase in Immunization level of children and pregnant women. Increased from 11% in 2010 to 94% in our intervention areas.
  • Benefitted over 14,000 adolescents and reached over 2 hundred thousand vulnerable community members directly through our health interventions.
  • Lower infant and maternal mortality in DEHAT’s intervention areas.
  • Improved quality of health-care provisions.
  • Enhanced utilization of services (enhanced demand and affordability).
  • Increased accessibility of human resources in health-care provision.
  • Bolstered availability of pharmaceuticals and other essential medical supplies.