UN report lauds Bihar`s efforts for reducing IMR

Infant mortality rate in Bihar, one of India`s poorest states, is declining, according to a UN report.

New Delhi: Infant mortality rate in Bihar,
one of India`s poorest states, is declining, according to a UN

The report has credited the state`s better infrastructure
development in the sectors including health, roads and
electricity for saving lives of newborns.

"Between 2008 and 2009, this (IMR) fell from 56 to 52 per
live 1,000 births - only just above the national average,"
says the assessment report by the United Nations Economic and
Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian
Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.
As part of the Comprehensive Newborn Care Initiative
(CNCI) developed with technical support from UNICEF and Bihar
Government`s National Neonatology Forum has set up `sick
newborn care units`.

The new system relies on better electricity supplies,
better health care services and better roads for home visits
and referrals to specialised health centres.

"Electricity supplies are not affected by the frequent
power cuts as the units also have back-up generators. The
units have equipment to make oxygen directly from the
atmosphere so need not wait for replenishment of oxygen
cylinders," the report said.
These units, of which there are now eight, have proved a
boon for critically sick newborns. Between 2009 and 2010 they
almost doubled their admissions, from 53,987 to 90,236.

The CNCI uses the integrated management of neonatal and
childhood illnesses, providing newborn care at every level,
abnd the government expects that this will save up to 60000
newborn lives every year.

"Thanks in part to improved roads, districts using this
approach also have home visits for all newborns, and Bihar is
also the first state in India to manage referred sick children
in hospitals," the report said.

State-of-the art care is also provided through the
neonatal intensive care unit at the Patna Medical College
Hospital which through telemedicine also serves as an online
consultation centre for districts, it added.