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UNICEF warns India, economic growth can't guarantee improved child survival, ranks it worse than B'desh, Nepal

By Our Representative
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that despite India’s “fast lane for global economic growth” it has been in “the slower lane for child mortality reduction”, insisting, countries like India and Nigeria should learn that the crucial “policy lesson: economic growth can help but does not guarantee improved child survival, and a country’s income need not hinder progress.”
In a just released report, “The State of the World's Children 2016: A fair chance for every child”, the report ranks India 48th with an under 5 infant mortality rate (U5IMR) of 48 out of 1,000 children born. The country which tops the list is Angola having an U5IMR of 157.
Ranking 96 countries, the report finds Pakistan a much poorer performer than India Pakistan, 22nd, with a U5IMR of 81. However two other neighbours are found to be better performers than India – Bangladesh, ranking 38th, has a U5IMR of 38, and Nepal 63rd with a U5IMR of 36.
“In India, being born into the poorest households carries a learning ‘penalty’ relative to children from the richest households”, the report underlines, adding, “The penalty widens between ages 7 and 11, reaching a 19 per cent gap in students’ ability to subtract.”
It insists, “When children face wealth-related disadvantages and have parents who did not attend school, there are powerful multiplier effects – especially for young girls. By age 11 in India, girls and boys who come from the richest homes and have educated parents enjoy a huge academic advantage over other children.” 

Pointing out that India’s spending on education (3.9 per cent of the GDP) is less than the average of 4 per cent of GDP in low income group of countries, the report says, “India invested 3.9 per cent of its GDP in education”, while Pakistan reported spending about 2 per cent of GDP on education.” It adds, “These investment levels are below the estimated 5.5 per cent of GDP that will be required to provide education for all by 2030.”
“Globally, child deaths are highly concentrated”, the report says, adding, “In 2015, about 80 per cent of these deaths occurred in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and almost half occurred in just five countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.”
“Behind this global average is an array of diverse national patterns. For example, children born into the poorest 20 per cent are almost twice as likely to die during their first five years as those from the richest 20 per cent in Bangladesh and three times as likely in India, Indonesia and the Philippines”, the report notes.
“Five countries will account for more than half of the global burden of under-five deaths: India (17 per cent), Nigeria (15 per cent), Pakistan (8 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (7 per cent) and Angola (5 per cent)”, the report says.
Pointing out that the global target of “neonatal mortality rate of 12 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030” is “bleak”, the report states, “Unless the trends change, dozens of countries will miss the mark by a wide margin. South Asia will not achieve the neonatal target until 2049 and sub-Saharan Africa will reach it after mid-century.
“The average annual rate of reduction in neonatal mortality required for India to reach the target is almost double the current level”, the report states. The neonatal mortality in India is 28 per 1,000 live births.

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