Major report details India’s infant mortality crisis

NEW DELHI, October 5, 2009 (AFP) – More than 400,000 Indian babies die every year from preventable causes within 24 hours of their birth, despite the country’s recent rapid economic development, a report said Monday. India accounts for a fifth of all newborn deaths worldwide, according to the major report published by charity Save the Children to launch a global campaign to reduce infant mortality.

Government initiatives in India to provide basic health care to all have not changed the grim reality for the nation’s babies, said Thomas Chandy, head of Save the Children in India.

“Although the schemes are there and the intention and allocation of resources is there, in many places they are not reaching out to people,” he told AFP.

“Every child, no matter where or to whom they are born, has an equal right and deserves an equal chance to survive. And every one of us has a moral responsibility to act and act now.”

The report, gathered from research in 14 countries, calculated that globally two million children die each year within 24 hours of birth — one every 15 seconds.

India’s child mortality statistics are particularly stark, with 72 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than neighbouring coun