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Health leaders slip

New Delhi: Some of India's best-performing states, including Kerala, assessed on health measures have slipped on their own earlier scores, a national health report card released on Friday by the Centre has suggested.

The Health Index, developed by the Niti Aayog, the government's policy-making think tank, has ranked Kerala at the overall top, followed by Punjab and Tamil Nadu, while Uttar Pradesh is the poorest performer with Rajasthan and Bihar with the next lowest scores.

Bengal is ranked 10th from the top and its score on the index rose from 57.9 in 2014-15 to 58.3 in 2015-16.

But Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have shown declines in their own health indices from 2014-15 to 2015-16. "This is a matter of concern and should nudge states into reviewing and revitalising their programmatic efforts," the report said.

The index has assessed states on the proportions of low birthweight newborns, their immunisation, tuberculosis treatment success rates, the amounts of personal or out-of-pocket expenses families pay for deliveries in government hospitals and vacancies in primary health centres, among other measures.

Rajasthan has the highest proportion (25 per cent, or one in four) of low birth weight newborns. Odisha, Assam and Bengal each also have high proportion (15 per cent or higher) or low birthweight newborns. Telangana is the best-performing state on this measure with only 6 per cent low-weight newborn.

The proportion of low birthweight newborns in Kerala increased from 10.8 in 2014-15 to 11.7 in 2015-16, a measure that could explain the state's lower score. In Karnataka, too, the proportion of low birthweight newborns increased from 10.8 to 11.5.

Bihar has the highest proportion (59 per cent) of vacancies of auxiliary-nurse-midwives in health sub-centres, followed by Gujarat (28 per cent) and Karnataka (22 per cent). Jharkhand has the highest proportion (74 per cent) of vacancies of nurses in primary health centres, followed by Bihar (50 per cent) and Rajasthan (47 per cent).

Mizoram is the top performer and Nagaland the worst among eight small states and Lakshadweep has scored the highest and Dadra and Nagar Haveli the lowest among the Union territories. The index has assessed large and small states and Union territories separately "to ensure comparison among similar entities".

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