India ranks 12 among 52: 6 lakh Indian children died in their first month in 2016, says UNICEF


  • UNICEF recently came up with a report name.ly, “Every Child Alive: The urgent need to end newborn deaths”, which says that when newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds, India ranks below Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.

What is in news?

  • For the first time, UNICEF has come out with rankings based on their newborn mortality rate (the number of deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • According to a new report released on 19th February, 2018, by United Nations Children’s Fund, India ranks 12th among 52 low-middle income countries having highest infant mortality rates.
  • In India, 6 lakh children are dying within the first month of their birth in 2016.
  • With the neonatal mortality rate being recorded at 25.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016, India ranked below Sri Lanka (127), Bangladesh (54), Nepal (50) and Bhutan (60).

Highlights of the latest report by United Nations Children’s Fund:

The highlights of the latest report by United Nations Children’s Fund are as follows:

Low income countries:

  • In low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births.

High income countries:

  • In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.

Dangerous places to be born:

  • The report also notes that 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions.
  • If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved.

India’s progress in reduction of under-five mortality:

  • Despite being ranked 12th, India has shown impressive progress in reduction of under-five mortality, nearly meeting its (Millennium Development Goal) MDG target, with a 66% reduction in under-five deaths during 1990 to 2015.
  • India’s progress has been far better than the world’s, the global decline in the under-five mortality during the MDG period was 55.
  • The number of annual under-five deaths in India has gone below one million for the first time in 2016.

What are the reasons that can be assigned to India for which it has been ranked 12th in having highest infant mortality rates?

There are three-fold reasons behind India’s high infant mortality rate. They are as follows:


  • Education still remains low on priority in rural areas.
  • Thus, new mothers and pregnant women lack the basic fundamentals of pregnancy as well as post baby care.


  • Another major reason is that many women do not have sufficient access to clean water, nutritious food and regular medical assistance.


  • Poverty is one of the vital causes for high infant mortality rate in India which gives access to malnutrition and diseases like birth asphyxia, pneumonia, birthing complications, neonatal infections, diarrhea, and malaria and so on.

How the recent union budget seeks to address the welfare for women and children?

  • The Union Budget of 2018 has heightened its focus on welfare for women and children.
  • This year’s budget has provided the Women and Child Development Ministry with an increase in funds by almost 12%, bringing the total to Rs. 24,700 Crores.

Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS:

  • The allocations towards Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), the only scheme in India that addresses child protection increased by 77 crores from Rs. 648 crores (RE 2017-18) to Rs. 725 crores (BE) which is a 12% increase.

Anganwadi Service:

  • The largest development scheme for children implemented through the Anganwadis has seen a 7% increase over last year which is Rs. 15245.19 crores (RE 2017-18) to 16334.88 crores (BE 2018-19).


  • The National Nutrition Strategy was released by the NITI Aayog last year based on which the implementation of the National Nutrition Mission will receive a boost from 550 crore (RE) to Rs. 2928.7 crores (BE).

Way ahead:

  • Ensuring gender equity with equal focus on boys and girls and addressing gaps in quality of care should be the next frontiers for newborn survival.
  • The issue of neglect of the girl child is much broader and needs interventions beyond health, to also address the social norms and cultural practices.
  • There is an urgent need to intensify our combined efforts to further bridge this gap and ensure equitable access to care for the newborn girl.
  • There is a need to create a social movement involving all stakeholders — government, professional bodies, civil societies, media, political leaders and communities.

Some related and important terminology:

Infant mortality:

  • Infant mortality is defined as the deaths of children who are less than one year of age.
  • Typically, this is measured by IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) which is the total number of deaths per 1000 live births.
  • This seems to be a major cause of concern in our country and is attributed to conditions like birth asphyxia, pneumonia, birthing complications, neonatal infections, diarrhea, malaria, and malnutrition.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):              

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEFis a United Nations (UN) programme headquartered in New York City.
  • It provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
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