India’s Government Working To Improve Newborn Survival

“Before you finish reading this, another baby in India will be born who does not live to see tomorrow,” Rajiv Tandon, a senior adviser for maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition at Save the Children India, writes in a Thomas Reuters Foundation opinion piece. “In fact, India today accounts for nearly one third of all newborn deaths worldwide,” he notes. “Clearly, saving newborn lives should be a national priority, and fortunately the national government of India agrees,” he writes, adding, “In recent months, the government has made key policy decisions that focus on several major causes of newborn death including babies with severe infections, babies born too soon (premature) and babies born at full term but at very low birth weight.” Tandon discusses recent changes to government regulations allowing Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) to administer certain medications to infants and mothers. In addition, the government is “encouraging and supporting participation of pregnant mothers in rural communities in support groups” and “supporting Kangaroo Mother Care, a proven and cost-effective practice that encourages mothers to keep their babies warm through skin-to-skin contact,” he writes.

“Taken together, these decisions are directly supportive of recent events and commitments by the Government of India to accelerate progress towards Millennium Development Goals to reduce maternal and child mortality,” Tandon writes, describing the commitments. “Putting these policies into practice in a country as vast and complex as India is no easy task,” he states, noting, “Progress won’t be immediate, and many challenges remain as India seeks to save newborn lives.” He continues, “Still, the government’s renewed commitment to addressing newborn mortality, coupled with the strong support of health advocates across the broad spectrum of maternal, child, newborn and reproductive health, serve as an example to other countries faced with similar challenges. The government is offering every mother-to-be reason to hope that their baby won’t be part of India’s staggering daily death toll of newborns” (7/26).