Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday blamed the urban population for the spurt in female foeticide in the state.
Speaking at a conclave, “No child born to die”, organised by non-government organisation Save the Children, Manjhi said: “People living in cities have access to diagnostic facilities such as ultrasound, which help to determine the sex of the foetus and they indulge in female foeticide. Rural people don’t have access to such things. So they are not able to do such things.”
Manjhi asked residents not to have many children. “Try to give your children pollution-free environment. That will keep them healthy. There is a need for cleanliness campaign in every village to ensure a pollution-free environment. There is also a need for children to undergo regular immunisation,” added Manjhi.
The chief minister said the issue of survival of children and newborns was a serious concern in which the state government had made considerable progress. “In 2002, child mortality rate was 122 in the state. It has dipped to 57 against the national average of 52. In the state, the death rate of children below the age of 1 is 43 against the national average of 42. The state has achieved a lot to curb infant mortality rate at 28 against the national average 29,” said Manjhi.
Health minister Ramdhani Singh spoke of the government’s measures to decrease the infant and mother mortality rates. “With “Manav Vikas Mission”, the state has created a model, proving that social and economic development can and must steer together. In its mission to ensure “Health for all”, Bihar launched a campaign, “Dus ka dum”, “Swasthya rahenge hum” – a 10-point agenda to improve the healthcare and promote healthy practices among people,” he said.
Save the Children officials acknowledged the government’s efforts in prioritising maternal and child health to achieve path-breaking reductions in child mortality levels. “If we want to achieve Millennium Development Goal of 2015, we have to focus on ensuring survival on the first day of birth,” said Thomas Chandy, the chief operating officer of Save the Children.