Too Many Indian Newborns Are Dying, Especially in New Delhi

The Indian capital comes off badly in a new report on infant mortality

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Vivek Prakash / Reuters

Anguri, left, a 26-year-old woman who just gave birth, lies on a bed with her newborn baby in the postdelivery ward at a community health center in the remote village of Chharchh, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh

India’s capital, New Delhi, has a disturbingly high infantmortality rate, according to a new report released by the NGO Save the Children. The rate of 30 deaths per 1,000 births in Delhi compares unfavorably with cities like Mumbai (20) and Chennai (15).

Early mortality is a particular concern. In Delhi, of all children dying before their first birthday, 64% died within the first 28 days of birth.

Such deaths can be prevented with better access to health care and the presence of qualified birth attendants, says the report, released on Tuesday. The research found that incidences of infant death are almost three times higher in poorer households.

India managed to bring down under-5 mortality by almost 54% between 1990 and 2012 (compared with a global reduction of 44.8%). But with nearly 40% of neonatal deaths occurring on the day an infant is born, the country is still struggling with postpartum care.

“If we want to achieve MDG 4 [Millennium Development Goal regarding child mortality] by 2015, we have to focus on ensuring survival on the first day of birth,” Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children, India, said in a statement.

MORE: Saving More Lives: Global Child-Mortality Rates Drop