Although the Situation is Improving, Women and Children Still Face Serious Health Problems in India
Sidney B. Westley and Vinod K. Mishra
Asia-Pacific Population & Policy, No. 56
Honolulu: East-West Center
Although infant and child mortality decreased between 1993 and 1999, 7 percent of all children born in India still die during the first year of life, and 9 percent die before reaching age five. Among the most striking findings from the second National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2) are the high infant mortality rates among children born to teenage mothers and children born within two years of a previous birth. Clearly, efforts to expand the use of temporary contraceptive methods—both to space births and to delay childbearing—could have an important impact on infant mortality. The clear link between maternity-related medical care and infant mortality also reinforces the urgency of ensuring that all pregnant women receive professional care during pregnancy and childbirth. Undernutrition and anemia are widespread among women and children in every state and in nearly every socioeconomic group. The proportion of children age 12–23 months who have been fully immunized against six preventable diseases has risen, but rates still fall well short of universal immunization.