Nearly 18 children under 5 years of age die of infections in Maharashtra everyday
Reply by the Deputy Director of Maharashtra Health Department of Maharashtra to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that between 2001 and 2012, a total of 78,573 children less than five years of age succumbed to infectious diseases in the state. The cause of the death included infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites and their complications. Gastroenteritis, Septicemia, Tuberculosis and encephalitis remain major causes of death.
· Parasitic infections caused 30,657 deaths of children, out of which 20,251 were infants.
· Bacterial infections led to loss of 18,556 children in out of which 15,475 were infants.
· Septicemia killed 18,637 children under five and
· Tuberculosis led to the demise of 5,677 children.
The reply shows that nearly half of the deaths were of infants which have been attributed to poor nutrition affecting foetal growth. Immunity is extremely low at the time of birth coupled with a large population of microbes due to tropical climate and low immunization levels makes infants susceptible to infections. Lack of awareness, shortage of neo-natal care units, improper nutrition intake are the leading causes of infant deaths which is higher in the rural areas, which is short of facilities for mother-baby care.
The RTI Application was filed by Chetan Kothari and the data was provided by Dr Madhukar Pawar, deputy director, health department. A high average daily death rate of 18 children calls for a sustained efforts to bring it down. Apart from better health care, adequate nutrition and vaccination are the need of the hour. Sufficient living facilities which prevents overcrowding and a check on pollution would aid in a healthy living. Better personal hygiene and facilities for sewage disposal are required in the long run.