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Last Updated : Jul 18, 2019 10:12 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Chart of the Day | Kerala beats Mexico, but Burundi does better than Madhya Pradesh

Infant mortality has improved, but India still lags behind some much poorer countries.

Manas Chakravarty @moneycontrolcom
Representative Image
Representative Image

Cast your eyes on the accompanying chart, which shows infant mortality rates of the larger Indian states, together with those of other countries. The data have been taken from the SRS Statistical Report recently published by the government and from the World Bank Development Indicators.

The infant mortality rate is defined as the number of deaths under one year of age occurring among the live births in a given geographical area during a given year, per 1,000 live births occurring among the population of the given geographical area during that year.

The sheer diversity of health outcomes in India

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As the chart shows, the all-India infant mortality rate is 33, but the tally varies widely among the states. Kerala’s infant mortality is at 10, slightly worse than China’s 8 and better than Mexico’s 11.5. At the tail end is Madhya Pradesh, with a shameful rate of 47, which places it below dirt-poor Burundi and Sudan.

What the chart shows is that taking care of a country or a state’s infants does not depend upon how rich a region is. How else can Madagascar, which is much poorer than India in terms of per capita income, have around the same infant mortality rate as India? Both Bangladesh and Cambodia take better care of their babies than India, in spite of being much poorer. India’s record is worse than far poorer Rwanda’s.

Within India too, Haryana is one of the richest states in per capita income, but it does much worse than far poorer West Bengal in combating infant mortality. Jharkhand is far poorer than Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh, but does better at containing infant mortality.

Experts have written tomes and numerous committees have burnt the midnight oil offering their suggestions on how to improve India’s health outcomes. There is one simple practical way to go about it -- all that the laggard states have to do is follow Kerala’s shining example. Money is not the problem here. It’s just a question of having the right priorities.​

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First Published on Jul 18, 2019 10:12 am
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