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Intervention fights infant mortality

Ranchi, March 10: In a model that can well be replicated by other states in future, intervention of women groups in two districts of Jharkhand — West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan — and in Orissa’s Keonjhar, has shown a fall in neonatal infant mortality rate and post-natal moderate depression among new mothers.

While the neonatal infant mortality rate, which stood at 60 per 1000 in these districts before intervention began in 2005, fell by 45 per cent to bring the figure to around 33 out of 1000 deliveries in three years, post-natal moderate depression fell by as much as 75 per cent. Occurrence of post-natal moderate depression among new mothers was 12 per cent in these districts before intervention started. In 2008, the same was brought down to 3 per cent.

“The credit goes to the women, who under the guidance of Ekjut, successfully brought down neonatal infant mortality rate and moderate depression rate of mothers in the three districts,” said Prashant Tripathi, head of Ekjut, an NGO.

Ekjut, along with Pradan and Centre for International Health and Development (University College of London), identified the three districts to improve the health of newborns and new mothers in 2005. They helped 250 women’s groups in 400 villages of these districts make positive intervention in health care, especially during and after childbirth.

Tripathi said the 250 groups, comprising over 5,000 women, monitored 4,692 births in the three districts between 2005 and 2008.

The average neonatal mortality rate in Jharkhand is 49 per 1000, while in Orissa it is 45 per 1,000 live births.

In India, over 2.1 million children die annually before reaching their fifth birthday. The majority of these deaths occur during the neonatal period — the first 28 days after birth. While around 4 million children die within the first 28 days across the world, in India the figure is around one million.

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