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State of Indian Mothers and Children May 10, 2006

Posted by scan man in Life in India, Medicine, News.

I saw Dr. Tara Smith's post at Aetiology today and read the CNN article that she linked to. As there was no mention of India in the best and worst 10 ranks, I was curious to know how we fared in the rankings.

I went over to the Save the Children homepage and downloaded the State of the World's Mothers 2006 report.

India was ranked 93 in the Mother's Index (MI) out of 125 countries; 105 in the Women's Index (WI) out of 131 countries and 128 in the Children's Index (CI) out of 167 countries.

I sort of expected this so I was not too shocked.

Here is the nitty gritty – the parameters that were studied to rank the countries. The numbers following the parameters are the Indian figures. For comparison I have included the corresponding figures for the topper Sweden (Ranks: MI – 1, WI – 1 & CI 20), the People's Republic of China (MI – 39, WI – 34, CI – 91) as it has a bigger population than us and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (MI – 107, WI – 109, CI – 141) since we Indians are obsessive about comparing ourselves to the Pakis. For the record Denmark was ranked first in the Children's Index.

  • Lifetime risk of Maternal Mortality – 1 in 48 (Sw 1 in 29,800; Ch 1 in 830; Pak 1 in 31)
  • Women using modern contraception – 43% (Sw 72%; Ch 83%; Pak 20%)
  • Births attended by skilled personnel – 43% (Sw 100%; Ch 96%; Pak 23%)
  • Pregnant Women with anemia – 50% (Sw 0%; Ch 52%; Pak 37%)
  • Adult Female literacy rate – 47.8% (Sw 99.9%; Ch 86.5%; Pak 35.2%)
  • Participation of women in national government (seats held by women) – 9.3% (Sw 45.3%; Ch 20.3%; Pak 20.6%)
    • I really can't believe that they have that many women in high positions in the Pakistani army
  • Infant Mortality Rate – 62/1000 live births (Sw 3/1000; Ch 26/1000; Pak 80/1000)
  • Gross primary enrollment ratio (expressed as %) – 108 (Sw 111; Ch 115; Pak 68)
    • The figure for Pakistan may be more if madrassahs are included.
  • Population with access to safe water – 86% (Sw 100%; Ch 77%; Pak 90%)
  • Children under 5 years suffering from moderate or severe malnutrition – 16% (Sw 0%; Ch 0%; Pak 13%)

Truly appalling to know that after nearly 60 years of independent democratic rule we have fared only slightly better than a country which spent half that period under military dictators and worse than a country which has been ruled by autocratic communists for nearly the same period.



1. Moof - May 10, 2006

Hey Dr. Scan Man … it’s got to be mitigated by the fact that you have such a large population! I wonder if also the fact that not as many people actively seek out more than the basic education might also play a role.

There are fewer of you trying to entice, drag, coax so many into into trying to improve themselves and their lots … it’s almost necessarily going to take a while for it to happen.

Just don’t stop trying … !

2. scan man - May 11, 2006

Thanks Moof. The report did include a disclaimer:

…it is important to remember that the condition of geographic or ethnic sub-groups in a country may vary greatly from the national average. Remote rural areas tend to have fewer services and more dire statistics. War, violence and lawlessness also do great harm to the well-being of mothers and children, and often affect certain segments of the population disproportionately. These details are hidden when only broad national-level data are available.

I guess there will be pockets of excellence and pockets of abysmal performance, which would get averaged. We would surely have to follow the authors recommendations if conditions are to be improved.

Governments and international agencies need to increase funding to improve education levels for women and girls, provide access to maternal and child health care, including voluntary family planning services, and advance women’s economic opportunities.

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