Child mortality in Indian districts

A new study* has documented child mortality in 597 Indian districts. Health programmes and priorities are set by Indian districts – small administrative areas comprising about 2 million people – but the lack of child mortality data at the district level has been a key obstacle to health planning.

The study, led by the Centre for Global Health Research, used data from several national surveys to calculate absolute deaths and mortality rates for neonates, children aged 1-59 months, and those under 5 years of age.

The results found large variation in mortality between Indian districts. Only about one-third of Indian districts are on track to achieve the UN Million Development Goal 4 of reducing under-5 mortality, while another third will only achieve it after 2020. This latter third is also home to 41% of India’s live births, but 56% of all child deaths. Additionally, female mortality exceeded male mortality in nearly all states of India, totaling 74,000 excess girl deaths.

*Ram U, Jha P, Ram F, Kumar K, Awasthi S, Shet A, Pader J, Nansukusa S, Kumar R. Neonatal, 1-59 month, and under-5 mortality in 597 Indian districts, 2001 to 2012: estimates from national demographic and mortality surveys. Lancet Global Health 2013; Published online September 19, 2013.

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