Uttar Pradesh: Infant Mortality Numbers Being Covered Up, Reveals CAG Report
The recent audit report of the Uttar Pradesh’s district hospitals revealed that the infant mortality data in Uttar Pradesh is skewed.
In a presentation made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said their recent audit of hospitals in the state reveals underreporting of infant mortality data.
According to a 2018 UNICEF report, “approximately 850 children under five years of age die every day in Uttar Pradesh. In the first week of birth 72.9 per cent neonatal deaths take place, while in the second week, 13.5 per cent, while in the third and fourth week 13.5 per cent deaths take place, in Uttar Pradesh.”
But data on stillbirths (death of a baby in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy) is distorted while neonatal deaths (infant dying within 28 days of birth) are not recorded by district hospitals at all. CAG’s findings are significant and raise important questions on infant mortality statistics. The auditor further added that the hospitals lacked vital emergency medicines and steroid injections to handle premature deliveries.
The report said that hospitals in rural areas are understaffed and no order is followed as there is an absence of hygiene protocols and linen replacements.
The Uttar Pradesh government had claimed the average stillbirth rate is 1.63 per cent per 100 pregnancies in the state. However, the CAG report revealed that the stillbirth rate was 2.2 per cent, while 0.8 per cent of the pregnancy outcomes were not recorded by these hospitals.
“It seems that infant mortality data are under-reported because these hospitals don’t maintain records on infant mortality and stillbirths,” CAG Rajiv Mehrishi said during the auditor’s general conference. However, the UP government has said that the data on infant mortality is based on “periodic reports” obtained from the “units” concerned.
In 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government assigned a sum of ₹23,884 crores towards health and family welfare, making a 15 per cent jump from the previous year’s budget of ₹20,735 crores.