New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus much before the target date set for December this year and described the achievement as a "major milestone" in efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Noting that this particular achievement has given India the confidence to achieve other goals well before the target date, the Prime Minister said that the country is also "likely to reach close" to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for maternal and child deaths.
"I am also happy to share with you today another major milestone achieved by India. India has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus.
"The validation for this has happened much before the global target date of December 2015. This gives us the confidence to achieve other targets well before the target date," Modi said while addressing the 'Global Call to Action' Summit 2015 being attended by representatives of 24 nations..
In many developing countries, deliveries take place in unhygienic circumstances, putting mothers and their newborn babies at risk for a variety of life-threatening infections.
Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) have been among the most common lethal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices. When tetanus develops, mortality rates are extremely high, especially when appropriate medical care is not available.
Modi asserted that in order to sustain efforts of being a maternal and neonatal tetanus free nation and to accelerate the full immunisation coverage in the country, his government has launched the world's largest immunisation drive - 'Mission Indradhanush'.
The mission aims at accelerating the current increase in annual rate of immunisation from existing one per cent to more than five per cent per year and achieve more than 90 per cent coverage by 2020, which otherwise would take more than 25 years at the current pace, Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that while in 1990, India's under-five mortality rate stood at 126 against the global average of 90, in 2013, the figure dropped to 49 against a global average of 46.
"The gap to the global average reduced from 36 points in 1990 to just 3 points in 2013 reflecting that India has achieved under-five mortality rate decline at an accelerated pace compared to global rate of decline.
"What this translates into is this: India is likely to reach close to achieving the MDG target if the current trend of annual decline is sustained," he said.