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India wrapped up its Child Survival and Development Summit Saturday which brought together hundreds of delegates, public health professionals, development workers, government officials, and NGOs to reflect on successes and continue discussion about how best to improve child and maternal health.
India is committed to the Global Call for Action on Child Survival which challenges countries to reduce the child mortality rate to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births by 2035.
With nearly 1.5 million child deaths out of 158 million children aged newborn to five years, India is one of the four nations in which half of all under-five child deaths occur. 800,000 of those children die in their first month of life. On average, one maternal death is reported every 10 minutes in India.
While the country is still plagued by these preventable tragedies, there are also accomplishments to be recognized and celebrated.
India’s under-five child mortality rate has declined faster than the global average; down by 45% since 1990, from 115 deaths per 1,000 live births to 59. The maternal mortality rate has also improved and stands at 212 per 100,000 live births.
Despite urban areas having always had lower child death rates than rural areas, that gap has narrowed and reflects increasing equity in health care.
Chharch Maternal and Child Centre is just one example of a facility helping to improve women’s and children’s health in rural India. In partnership with UNICEF and the government of the state of Madhya Pradesh, the clinic operates 24 hours per day every day of the year. Located 45 miles from the nearest hospital, the clinic is a welcome refuge in an underserved region.
Staffed by three auxiliary nurse midwives and a driver, the clinic boasts an ambulance service that transports patients to and from the facility or full-service hospitals as necessary. Solar power provides lighting and cool storage for vaccines.
Since opening, Chharch clinic has delivered more than 650 babies and is relied upon by 30,000 people for their medical needs. There are now 125 such clinics in the state of Madhya Pradesh.