Home / Politics / Policy /  Delhi among worst places for mothers and children

New Delhi: The quality of life of mothers and children in the urban slums of India’s capital city is one of the worst in the world and the health inequity between the rich and the poor is stark, according to the State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM) 2015 report released by Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), on Monday.

The report that puts together statistics on the health of mothers and children to rank countries says that only 19% of pregnant women in Delhi’s slums are likely to get help from skilled attendants during childbirth. For the urban rich, it is 99%. Only 56% of the children in these slums get measles vaccination and just 27% of pregnant women complete their pre-natal visits to doctors, says the report.

Compared to this, the same parameters for the urban rich are at a respectable 98% and 93%, respectively, says the report. The widest gaps between the rich and the poor were found in Delhi, Dhaka (Bangladesh), Port au Prince (Haiti) and Dili (Timor-Leste). In terms of child malnutrition, Delhi finds a place on par with Kigali (Rwanda), Distrito Central (Honduras) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), states the report which presents the first-ever assessment of health disparities in cities.

“The young children dying in city slums today—even where lifesaving care may be stone’s throw away—represent perhaps the saddest expression of urban health system failure, and they also represent the everyday misery faced by millions of others," says the report.

Of the 189 countries surveyed for health of mothers and children, India is ranked 140, below Rwanda (121), Kenya (138) and Bangladesh (130). A section of the SOWM report examines the urban child survival gap between the rich and the poor urban kids in 36 developing countries. In the age group 0-5 years, the urban poor are 3.2 times more likely to die compared to the urban rich in Delhi, says the report scorecard.

“The India government has made great progress in reducing the IMR (infant mortality rate) but even today over 760,000 newborns die in India every year. Many of these deaths are due to preventable reasons like diarrhea, sepsis. This should not be acceptable to an emerging economic power like India," said Sudeep Gadok, director of programmes at the Indian chapter of Save the Children.

“Save the Children feels that all stakeholders should pull together and complement the efforts of the government to achieve the MDG4 (Millennium Development Goal 4). Due to the large cohort (globally every fifth child is born in India ) any improvement in IMR (infant mortality rate) of even a single state here can positively impact the global situation."

The report offers something to cheer. The global under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) came down by half from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2013.

However, India’s U5MR missed the millennium development goal of 42 deaths per 1,000 live births; it stands at 52.7 deaths per 1,000 deaths.

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