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Despite progress, India to miss MDG targets


New Delhi: India has achieved considerable progress in reducing infant and under-five mortality rates but is way behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, said a new report released by the union health ministry.

The Millennium Development Goals, which include eight goals, were framed to address the world’s major development challenges with health and its related areas as the prime focus.

According to the National Health Profile 2015, released by Health Minister J.P. Nadda here, the Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) has declined from an estimated level of 125 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 52 in 2012.

The report said given the rate of reduction of U5MR, India tends to reach the rate of 49 by 2015 as per the historical trend, missing the MDG target by seven percentage points.

“However, considering the continuance of the sharper annual rate of decline witnessed in the recent years, India is likely to achieve the target,” it added.

As far as the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is concerned, it reduced by nearly 50 percent during 1990-2012 and the present level stands at 42.

Going by this trend, the IMR is likely to reach 40 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2015, missing the MDG target of 27 by 13 points.

India is required to reduce the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from an estimated level of 437 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 109 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

But, at the historical pace of decrease, it would be able to reach an MMR of 140 per 100,000 live births by end 2015, falling short by 31.

The National Health Profile covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, along with comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.

The Central Bureau of Health Investigation (CBHI) has been publishing National Health Profile every year since 2005. This is the 11th edition.

The health minister also released an e-book of the report and said it was part of the many digital initiatives being taken by the government.

Nadda said that data was an important source of navigation.

“It helps in understanding the goals, our strengths and weaknesses and it is also an important means to strategize. Good compiled data enables the policymakers to make evidence-based policies and aids effective implementation of various schemes,” he added.

The minister said that the country now needs to work towards converting documented data into “real-time” data. “While digital data helps us to be more efficient, real time data helps to monitor our schemes and efforts in real time.”

He congratulated and appreciated CBHI for their recent initiatives regarding uses of geo-mapping of four different districts of different parts of the country such as the north-eastern region, south region, desert area and Jharkhand. He hoped that this exercise will extend to other parts of the country also.

Health Secretary B.K. Sharma said: “Data lets you plan. We need to collect data and that too at regular intervals.”


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East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health

skin-lightening products
FILE - Aranmolate Ayobami, plastic surgeon at Grandville Medical and Laser clinic in Lagos, holds a tube of Skinlite a skin lightening product used at his clinic, on July 17, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

East African countries are set to ban skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent linked to health problems when used in high concentrations. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution calling for a region-wide ban on the manufacturing and importation of products containing hydroquinone.

At a beauty parlor in Arusha, 52-year-old Rose Mselle has been using skin-bleaching products since she was a teenager. She says women like her want to be beautiful. “And in the process of looking for beauty, or for our skin color to shine, we use things that we shouldn’t,” she added.

At a nearby market, 32-year-old clothing vendor Janet Jonijosefu used skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent used to treat dark spots, for years. She stopped after her skin became fragile.

She said the beauty products containing hydroquinone badly affected her skin. She started developing patches on her face. She went to the doctor and was advised to stop using products containing hydroquinone and instead use aloe vera.

skin-lightening products
FILE – A shop sells skin-lightening products in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2018. VOA

Skin-lightening products often use high concentrations of hydroquinone, which can cause skin problems or become toxic when mixed with other bleaching chemicals.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa ban or regulate the agent in cosmetics. Tanzania bars imports. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution on a region-wide ban of hydroquinone’s manufacture and importation.

Suzan Nakawuki, a member of the regional assembly from Uganda, noted that hydroquinone is not only used by women but also men. “We have seen men bleaching seriously even more than women,” she said. “But it’s becoming a problem. If we don’t regulate it, it is going to become very problematic.”

When used medically, hydroquinone can be an effective treatment for skin discoloration. Some East African lawmakers spoke out against a blanket ban. Aden Abdikadir, a lawmaker from Kenya, said he is concerned a blanket ban will cause “serious trade disruption” for cosmetics.

skin-lightening products
If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. Wikimedia Commons

If signed by heads of state, the ban becomes law in all six East African Community states, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Critics point out bans on hydroquinone have failed to stop smuggled products from being sold openly. Cosmetics labeled as having hydroquinone are on display at shops in Arusha.

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. (VOA)