That the future of the country lies in the hands of the young is well known. It is these young people of today who will shape and lead the country tomorrow. Therefore, in order to ensure that our country remains strong tomorrow, the health of the young today must be given utmost priority.
Over the last four years, the government has taken several measures to ensure that the health of infants and children are given maximum attention with a view to give them the utmost quality of life, preparing them for future when they can contribute productively to the cause of nation-building.
Impressive improvement in infant and maternal mortality rates
When a child is born, both the child and the mother need the best healthcare possible under an integrated response mechanism. In India, the infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rates are improving and in the last few years, both the indicators have shown significant reduction.
The under-five child mortality (U5MR) of India showed an impressive decline from 49 per 1000 live births in 2013 to 39 in 2016. India, with the current rate of decline of U5MR is well on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target of 25 for under-five child mortality by 2030.
Only half way through its term, the government had brought down the infant mortality rate by three points (8% decline), from 40 per 1000 live births in 2013 to 34 per 1000 live births in 2016.
In tandem with these gains in terms of infant and child health, the country has also shown remarkable reduction in maternal mortality rates with 22% reduction since 2013. Maternal mortality ratio of India has declined from 167 in 2011-2013 to 130 in 2014-2016. Now nearly one thousand fewer women die of pregnancy related complications each month in India. No less than UNICEF has lauded India’s progress on reducing maternal deaths.
The government launched Mission Indradhanush within the first year of its tenure. With the success of the programme, in order to accelerate mission, an Intensified Mission Indradhanush was launched, to reach each and every child up to two years of age and all those pregnant women who have been left uncovered under the routine immunisation programmes.
Four phases of Mission Indradhanush have been completed wherein 3.38 crore children were vaccinated, of which 81.67 lakh children have been fully immunized. 86.88 lakh pregnant women were vaccinated too.
Under Mission Indradhanush, the annual rate of increase of full immunisation coverage has increased from 1% to 6.7 % during the two rounds.
Notably, ‘Mission Indradhanush’ has been selected as one of the 12 best practices globally and has been featured in a special issue of the British Medical Journal, thereby recognising the government’s efforts in this direction.
Successfully handling Japanese Encephalitis
Japanese Encephalitis which has proven to be a life-threatening viral disease affecting mainly children aged less than 15 years across many parts of the country, has been tackled head on by the government. By the middle of 2018, over 15 crore children aged 1-15 years were vaccinated with the JE vaccine. Special JE re-campaign was also carried out in all 38 JE endemic districts of Uttar Pradesh where 99.20 lakh children were administered the vaccine. According to reports, the state of Uttar Pradesh which is one of the worse affected states, has seen a sharp fall in cases of JE.
The government has sought to address the problem of malnutrition through the landmark POSHAN Abhiyaan to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers by leveraging technology, targeted approach and convergence. The aim is to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight. The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022. A sum of Rs. 2122.27 crore has been released for FY 2017-18 & 2018-19 with over 10 crore people to benefit.
Therefore, the Modi government through its sincere and timely intervention has sought to strengthen the health of children and women in the country. Realising the need for timely intervention in case of infants, small children and expectant mothers, there has been a well thought out and concerted approach to address their issues. Only a healthy child who grows up to be a healthy adult can lead a healthy and strong nation in future.