Paediatricians could help considerably reduce the current high infant mortality rate in the state with the help of international agencies, claimed doctors at a seminar on Sunday.
Medicos discussed what feasible line of action could be followed to check the state’s soaring infant mortality rate (IMR) — 44 per 1,000 live births — on the opening day of a seminar organised by the Motihari branch of Indian Academy of Paediatrics. Some of them claimed that with the effective combination of the policies of the Unicef, the WHO, the state government and the academy, the IMR could be reduced to 35 by next year.
Senior medical practitioner Shambhu Sharan inaugurated the seminar with academy patron Vijay Kumar Singh, S.A. Krishna, Arun Shah and Nigam Prakash Narain (of Patna Medical College and Hospital). Shah said: “The IMR in the country is the largest in the world. Around 21 lakh infants die every year. Of this, Bihar has the lion’s share — around 10 lakh.”
One of the major reasons for such a high rate, said paediatricians, is the fact that most deliveries still happen at homes with minimal medical care. To boost the involvement of paramedical personnel, 160 nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives, who work at district hospitals, public health centres and auxiliary primary health centres, were given a mock demonstration on how to negotiate difficult deliveries requiring resuscitation.
Academy patron Singh said: “Many newborns require minimum resuscitation in the form of ‘bag en masse therapy’. Skilled nurses were trained by paediatricians at the seminar today (Sunday) about how to conduct it. This would be helpful in saving many infant lives.”
Till 2005-06, the IMR was around 67 per thousand live births in a year. “It has gradually come down with the spread of awareness among people,” he said, adding that an effective measure could be breastfeeding within half-an-hour of birth. “Routine immunisation, application of ORS in case of diarrhoea and breastfeeding could significantly reduce the IMR,” said Singh.