As was observed by the Supreme Court, “unprecedented neonatal/infant deaths took place in January-May 2012 in GB Pant Hospital, Srinagar.” While over 500 infants died in GB Pant hospital alone in 2012, the top court underlined that the quality of medical care in government hospitals across J&K was a matter which should receive attention. The observations were made by the top court in 2016 and in four years proceeding to the matter, the high court had passed numerous orders which prompted a response from officials which seems to be showing up now. In the last three years, many gains have been achieved towards the ultimate goal.
As per the National Family Healthy Survey (NFHS-5), conducted by International Institute of Population Sciences Mumbai, J&K has recorded 22 points decrease in Neonatal Mortality Rate (NNMR) from 23.1 to 9.8, 16 points decrease in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) from 32.4 to 16.3 and 19 points decrease in Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) from 37.6 to 18.5, which is unprecedented and is the reflection of health status of general population.
The report also points a positive change towards the girl child and recorded improvement in Sex Ratio at birth from 923 to 976 females per1000 males.
The average number of children per women, measured by Total Fertility Rate (TFR), has also shown a significant improvement since last report which decreased from 2.0 to 1.4.
The latest data seems to be in consonance with the data released by the Registrar General of India in the SRS bulletin in May this year.
As per it, the J&K’s IMR was significantly better when compared to the national level of 32 infant deaths per thousand live births for the year 2018. Nationally it is about one-fourth as compared to 1971 (129 infant deaths per thousand live births).
Not only in Jammu and Kashmir but IMR has also witnessed a decline of about 35% in rural areas and about 32% in urban areas in India in the last ten years.
While selective achievements are important, they cannot always be a sign of overall progress. The government has also set two years’ time to bring down the IMR in single digit and to achieve the remarkable feat, a lot of effort on many counts is needed and there is no room for complacency.
There are connected issues such as malnutrition among women and children which attention to achieve the feat.