Monday May 27, 2019

Andaman and Nicobar reports lowest infant mortality rate

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New Delhi: A data released by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4) this week, stated that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory, reported India’s lowest infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) and under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 children) among 13 states and two union territories.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory, reported India’s lowest infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) and under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 children) among 13 states and two union territories for which data was released this week.

Madhya Pradesh (MP) reported the highest infant mortality rate (IMR) as well as under-five mortality rate (u5MR) with 51 and 65, respectively, according to data published by the health ministry, as per the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS 4), a nationwide health census, the last data for which was released in 2005-06.

Over this decade, rising female literacy, later marriages, the ability to take financial decisions, better healthcare, cooking facilities and water supply are among the reasons why Indian mothers and children are living longer, according to data from the 13 states and two union territories.

But some afflictions have seen limited progress, such as anaemia, reported in half the children in 10 states and more than half the women in 11 states. Overall, progress is uneven across India, the data shows.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have an infant mortality rate of 10, better than Brazil (15), the same as China and Bulgaria, according to World Health Organisation data, and better than a host of countries with higher per capita incomes. In contrast, MP’s infant mortality rate is worse than some of the world’s poorest countries, such as Gambia and Ethiopia.

Data for union territories and the newly minted one-and-a-half-year-old state of Telangana has been featured for the first time in the NFHS.

Crucial data is missing for some of India’s most backwards states requiring special healthcare intervention by the central government – officially called empowered action group (EAG) states – including Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Almost all the 13 states and two union territories have seen a decline in infant mortality rates and under-five mortality rates. The highest fall in IMR was seen in Tripura – from 51 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005-06 to 27 in NFHS 4 (2015-16).

The highest fall in under-five mortality was seen in West Bengal – from 59 to 32 over the same period.

The direct reasons for improvement are better maternal and child health practices such as more breastfeeding, births in healthcare institutions (instead of at home), improved vaccination and the use of diarrhoea medication. The indirect reasons include rising female literacy, later marriages, better cooking facilities such as gas thus reducing health risks from wood or coal-fired stoves and financial inclusion.

The states that have seen improvements in IMR and U5MR clearly improved their child health indicators. Tripura, which saw the highest decline in IMR, has also seen a decline in the prevalence of diarrhoea, from 8.4 percent in 2005-06 to 4.9 percent in 2015-16, and an increase in fully immunised children from 49.7 percent to 57.7 percent.

West Bengal, which has seen the second highest reduction in IMR and the highest decline in U5MR, has been able to achieve these through increased availability of oral rehydration solution (ORS) for children suffering from diarrhoea (42.6 percent to 64.7 percent) and improving immunisation from 64.3 percent to 84.4 percent of children.

Karnataka saw a decline in IMR from 43 in 2005-06 to 28 in 2015-16 and decline in U5MR from 54 to 32. The state saw an increase in consumption of iron tablets by mothers from 28.2 percent to 45.3 percent.

The state also saw an increase in the percentage of mothers who received full ante-natal care from 24.8 percent to 32.9 percent and an increase in institutional births from 64.7 percent to 94.3 percent showing a direct correlation between improvement in maternal health and reduction in child mortality.

The correlation between sanitation and IMR numbers is well documented. Tripura and West Bengal have seen improvements in sanitation facilities, which have resulted in decreased IMR figures across these states. West Bengal has seen an increase in the percentage of households with improved sanitation facilities from 34.7 percent to 50.9 percent.

Female empowerment through literacy and financial inclusion has also helped in reducing infant and maternal mortality. The education of mothers and their ability to make decisions affects infant and child mortality, according to this study published by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS). This is evident in West Bengal, where female literacy rates rose from 58.8 percent to 71 percent, alongside declines in both IMR and U5MR.

Similarly, Tripura’s female literacy rose from 68.5 percent to 80.4 percent and Karnataka’s from 59.7 percent to 71.7 percent.

Women in the three states also reported increased participation in household decisions. For example, in Karnataka, female participation increased from 68.6 percent to 80.4 percent. One of the reasons for the improvement of the status of women can also be attributed to their ability to spend their own income. This has been achieved through financial inclusion, which has led to many having their own bank account, the IDS study said.(IANS) (picture courtesy: aif.org)

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IoT in Healthcare at Serious Cyber Attack Risk, Say Experts

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman

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Misuse of antibiotic drugs have lead to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, Pixabay

While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

In recent years, India has seen IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. The technology has also enabled doctors see and interact with patients in remote telemedicine centres – with the case history and medical data automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.

“India has an acute shortage of doctors which impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services in rural and urban centres,” John Samuel, Managing Director (health and public service) at Accenture, told IANS.

“A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies can enable continuous remote patient monitoring and reporting, allowing hospitals to extend care to more people, and reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure,” Samuel added.

According to the “IoT India Congress 2018”, the Indian IoT market is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to $9 billion by 2020 across sectors such as telecom, health, vehicles and homes, among others.

It is emerging as the next big thing to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020 and India is all set to capture at least 20 per cent market share in the next five years, says a Nasscom report.

However, lack of basic security awareness among staff as well as state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has made the healthcare industry a favourite target for hackers.

A 2016 report from cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard found that healthcare is the fifth highest in ransomware counts among all industries, and more than 77 per cent of the entire healthcare industry has been infected with malware since August 2015.

FILE – The U.S. campaign for the smart use of antibiotics parallels similar efforts in Europe and Canada.

Among them was the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack in 2016 which affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“Despite suffering from ransomware attacks, organisations remain unprepared for the next round of large-scale attacks,” Yariv Fishman, Head of Product Management (Cloud Security and IoT) at Check Point Software Technologies, told IANS in an email interaction.

Fishman pointed out that it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings.

Once integrated into a hospital, medical devices are fully utilised to meet patient care requirements.

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As a result, even if a software patch that may prevent a potential cyber-attack is available, it usually takes lot of time for implementation.

Other reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks in which, guests, patients, doctors and connected medical devices, all share the same network.

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman.

“They also need to segment parts of the network in order to contain malware attacks and mitigate the potential risk of one part of the network attacking other parts and integrate threat prevention solutions,” he noted. (IANS)