New Delhi: The Tamil Nadu government has launched the ‘Amma Baby Care Kit’ for mothers delivering in government hospitals. The kit will have basic essentials like a towel, a mosquito net, an infant mattress, napkin, baby shampoo, a nail-cutter, a doll and a hand sanitizer.

This social scheme was launched just over a month after chief minister J. Jayalalithaa inaugurated more than 350 breastfeeding rooms at bus terminals across the state and launched milk banks in seven government hospitals.

Healthcare, particularly of women and children, has been a priority for the state government for a long time.

In 1992, in her first stint as a chief minister, J. Jayalalithaa introduced the Cradle Baby Scheme to address the state’s skewed sex ratio and check large-scale sex selective abortions. The families that did not want a girl child were invited to leave them in cradles placed outside social welfare centres. The model was later adopted by other states.

It was Jayalalithaa’s government which was the first to introduce police stations operated solely by women. She also introduced 30% quota for women in all police jobs.

Besides, for the health of adolescent girls and women, her government launched a free sanitary napkin scheme.

Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has seen a sharp decline in infant mortality rate (IMR) in the last decade. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 24 per 1,000 births and in 2013, it was reduced to 21. According to a UNICEF factsheet, India is unlikely to meet the targets for Millennium Development Goal (MDG)-4, which aims to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate (U5 MR). However, six states, including Tamil Nadu and Kerala, are likely to achieve the IMR and U5 MR target of MDG-4.