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SIMPLE, cheap measures like providing basic transport facility or on- call ambulance services in rural areas and promoting breastfeeding in the first hour after a child's birth hold the key for India getting rid of its most shameful health indicator -- very high and stagnating neonatal mortality rate. While the economic growth rate has been rising steadily in the past few years, the number of infants dying within the first four weeks of birth has remained static at 36 per 1000 live births since 2000.

The absolute number of Indian children dying is chilling -- 100 per hour. The stagnation in the neonatal death rate has Indian experts and international agencies worried, as neonatal deaths account for almost 50 percent of all childhood deaths in the country.

Remember, most of these deaths are preventable. Simple measures like encouraging mothers to feed newborns in the first hour ( in some regions, this is delayed owing to superstitions), avoiding early bath, proper dressing of the umbilical cord stump and providing an ambulance to ferry the mother and child to a healthcare facility, in case of an emergency, can save the lives of lakhs of children every year.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Nov 19, 2009
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