GUWAHATI, Oct 7 - Expressing serious concern over the reported deaths of a number of newborn babies in the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College in Barpeta, health consultants and child rights bodies have called for an effective multi-stakeholder convergence for reducing the possibility of such mortalities. “While no family member can be easily consolable at the death of a child, it is important for individuals and the State government to take strategic measures to ensure that such tragic incidents do not occur in future. The infant mortality rate (IMR) per 1,000 live births per year is 48 in the State as against the all-India figure of 41 (NFHS 4).
The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Assam is also among the highest in the country, and by and large, common strategies can address these two scenarios in the State,” Dr Chiranjeeb Kakoti of the Adolescent and Child Right Network Assam (ACRNA) told The Assam Tribune.
Stressing the need for putting in place all possible and credible services for the pregnant women and the newborn in critical situations at all healthcare institutions, particularly in the district hospitals, Dr Kakoti said that it needs to be implemented in a time-bound manner.
“Eradicating quackery at all levels and ensuring community-level health check-ups, besides early detection and prompt referral as soon as there are early warning signs – either of the pregnant woman or the foetus or both – are imperative to preventing avoidable tragedies,” he added.
According to ACRNA, massive awareness to prevent early marriage, early pregnancy and recurrent pregnancies, diligent implementation of life skills education for children going to educational institutions, strengthening social institutions and local governance systems to prevent child marriages and increasing law enforcers-community interface, and registration of all marriages irrespective of religion professed by the couple and other societal norms and beliefs should form part of a holistic strategy to bring about a lasting change in the scenario.
“Breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition – the child-mother-child cycle – and promoting kitchen gardens at all households and institutions, and consumption of locally available food bereft of fertilisers and other chemicals should be promoted and use of harmful chemicals should be banned,” Dr Kakoti added.
The ACRNA also urged parents, teachers and all citizens to ensure that girls are not married off early, and that they complete education at least beyond the secondary level and girl children and pregnant women get proper nutrition. Registration of pregnant women as soon as their pregnancy is detected, followed by check-up and treatment compliance during the entire period of pregnancy, are also of paramount importance, he stated.