Is urban health care being neglected? -Yogesh S
The Infant Mortality Ratio (IMR) data, which has either risen or remained stagnant in urban areas raises questions about the condition of the urban health care system.
While on one hand, the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been making tall claims about its Ayushman Bharat scheme, crucial indicators such as Infant Mortality Ratio (IMR) are showing a deep disparity. The decline in the government’s expenditure on public health system and opening up the health sector to private players has had an adverse impact on IMR. IMR is defined as infant deaths per 1000 live births in a given time period and for a given region.
As Oommen C. Kurian and Rakesh Kumar Sinha write in The Wire, “Even though the IMR at pan India level has been declining, as an Indiaspend report explained, India’s IMR in 2017 remained higher than the global 29.4, a rate equivalent to that of the West African nation of Senegal and higher than most South Asian neighbours’ except that of Pakistan and Myanmar.” There certainly is a decline in the IMR at pan India level. However, the story is different state wise. Examining the data in Sample Registration System (SRS) closely for the “advanced” states, it can be seen that there exists a disparity in the trend of the changing IMRs between the rural and urban areas. The decline is seen mainly in the rural areas, while even in highly urbanised states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, the IMR either shot up in 2017 or showed stagnation.
Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has risen by a point in the state of Karnataka, from 24 to 25 in 2017, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) 2017. The state had successfully brought down IMR from 28 in 2015 to 24 in 2016, as per a report by The Hindu. According to this report, “Despite this (rise), Karnataka’s IMR is better than the country’s average, which is 33 infant deaths per thousand live births in 2017.” However, there was another report in 2017 which said, “The numbers across Karnataka show that the backward districts in north Karnataka continue to witness the highest number of infant deaths.” According to the health department’s data, the IMR in the northern parts of the state still remains high.
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