New government data released this week reports that India’s national IMR rates have fallen from 50 (2007-2009) to 47 (51 rural, 31 urban), see figure. The government is hopeful that a renewed emphasis on newborn care and support for pregnant women and sick children will further drive mortality rates down. First, the government will begin to provide an incentive for the ASHA (250 Rupees) once she has completed a series of newborn care visits at the home within the first 28 days of a child’s life. Neonatal deaths contribute to approximately two thirds of all infant deaths, and over 40% of all child deaths. Yet to date, newborn care is a significant gap in public services delivery and home-based care. Second, in the launch of the new Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram scheme, pregnant women and sick children will receive free transport, diagnostics, food, and treatment at all facilities. Our Model Districts will push for the rapid and streamlined implementation of both interventions (fortifying them in some ways) and will be reporting back on this.
The data is from the Sample Registration Survey (SRS), a survey that is similarly ambitious to India’s new Annual Health Survey. The SRS is also conducted by the Office of the Registrar General, relying on part-time enumerators collecting and verifying mortality data by census block, and providing state-level bulletin reports on mortality and population figures (MMR is reported every 2-3 years, IMR every year). As another huge methodological effort in India’s health surveying, the SRS is worth reading more about here and here.