Current Affairs

RSOC report on Child health

RSOC report on Child health

Recently Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) has released a report in matters of health and nutrition.

Findings of the survey

Maternal care

The proportion of institutional deliveries among recent births shot up from 39 per cent in 2005- 06 to 79 per cent in 2013-14 and the proportion attended by a skilled provider rose from 47 per cent to 81 per cent.

With increasing institutional deliveries, this pattern can be plausibly attributed to recent health policy initiatives, such as the appointment of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), who are now actively involved in immunisation programmes along with Anganwadi workers and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs).

This leap forward, however, has not been accompanied by a general breakthrough in maternal care. For instance, the proportion of pregnant women who had at least three antenatal checkups was not much higher in 2013- 14 (63 per cent) than in 2005-06 (52 per cent). Similarly, the proportion who consumed Iron and Folic Acid tablets for at least 90 days was very low in both years: 23 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Child care

In some States, many women deliver in health centres for the sake of cash incentives, with very limited real benefits in terms of natal or postnatal care.

The proportion of children with a vaccination card rose from 38 per cent in 2005-06 to 84 per cent in 2013- 14, and vaccination coverage rose from 59 to 79 per cent for measles, 55 to 75 per cent for DPT3, and 44 to 65 per cent for “full immunisation”.

The proportion of children breastfed within an hour of birth rose from just 25 per cent in 2005-06 to 45 per cent in 2013-14.

The proportion of undernourished children declined from 48 to 39 per cent based on height-for-age criteria and from 43 to 29 per cent based on weight-for-age criteria.

Even with these improved figures, India has some of the lowest child vaccination rates in the world, and lags far behind Bangladesh and even Nepal.

Safe drinking water and sanitation

Considering the vital importance of safe water, it is alarming that close to 10 per cent of households are still deprived of clean drinking water.

Another concern is slow progress in sanitation. Proportion of sample households practicing open defecation declined from 55 per cent in 2005-06 to 46 per cent in 2013-14, or barely one percentage point per year. At that rate, it will take at least another 40 years for India to eliminate open defecation.

Performance of some of the neighboring countries

Despite being about twice as rich as Bangladesh in terms of per-capita GDP, India lags far behind Bangladesh in terms of child vaccination rates, breastfeeding practices, incidence of open defecation, access to safe water, and related indicators.

Almost same is the gap with Nepal.

Some of the criticisms of central govt. decision

Recently central government has cut the budget of several social sector schemes and programs. Financial allocations for the Integrated Child Development Services were slashed by 50 per cent or so in the last Union budget.

Central government is ignoring its legal obligation to provide for maternity entitlements under the National Food Security Act. Even the sanitation budget has been quietly reduced.

The Central government is effectively palming off social policy to the States, with little regard for the consequences of undermining centrally sponsored initiatives that play a critical role in the field of maternal and child health.

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