At a time when government claims to be taking all steps to bring down infant mortality rate, as many as 7,413 children below six years have died in five blocks of southern Odisha district of Malkanagiri during past five years.
A report obtained by exercise of Right to Information says the causes behind the deaths are asphyxia, fits, low birth weight, pneumonia, acute respiratory infection, jaundice, chest pain – many of these diseases are preventable.
The RTI report says the deaths have been reported under Podia, Mathili, Kodmulguma, Kalimela and Pandripani community health centres and district headquarters hospital of Malkanagiri.
As many as 1,586 children died in Chitrakonda CHC while district headquarters hospital reported 1,968 deaths. Mathili and Kodgulguma CHCs have reported 1166 and 1210 deaths respectively in past five years.
Due to remoteness and low level of awareness among people, many of the deaths are not reported.
As per 2011 census, Malkanagiri has a population of six lakh,
Of this, children aged between zero and six is one lakh. Given the population of children below six years in the district, over 7000 deaths indicates that health infrastructure seems to be not responding to health issues.
“Malkangiri district is extremely under-developed, backward and the poorest district in the state in many respects. It is a very sensitive district having regular occurrence of naxal violence and death of children due to malnutrition and various diseases,” said Pradip Pradhan, an RTI activist.
Mr. Pradhan alleged, “infant mortality rate is the highest in the State. Huge amount of fund is allocated to the district both to check naxal menace and for socio-economic development of people. But it does not reach common people, especially the tribals.”