Jammu and Kashmir took the top spot among larger states and witnessed the lowest proportion of newborns with Low Birth Weight (LBW) while Odisha has highest proportion, a NITI Aayog report has said.
As per the recently released ‘Healthy States Progressive India’ report by NITI Aayog which notes the progress made by states including J&K, the percentage of LBW among newborns varied across States and Union Territories.
“Among the larger States, J&K had the lowest proportion (5.5 percent) of newborns with LBW, while Odisha had the highest proportion (18.2 percent)," said the report prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) with technical assistance from the World Bank.
The report focuses on measuring and highlighting the overall performance and incremental improvement over a two-year period (2016-17 and 2017-18) in the states and the UTs, which are categorized as larger states, smaller states and UTs, to ensure comparison among similar entities.
LBW is used to describe babies born with less than 2,500 grams and could be either the result of preterm birth or of restricted fetal growth.
“LBW is associated with fetal and neonatal deaths, illnesses and long-term consequences such as impaired cognitive development, and the onset of chronic diseases later during adult life,” the report said.
“This indicator reflects the effects of physical environment of the infant and the mother, which played a key role in determining the infant’s birth weight and future health," said the report.
It reveals that for smaller States, the proportion of newborns with LBW varied from 4.1 percent in Nagaland to 15.6 percent in Goa.
"Among the UTs, the proportion varied between 7.4 percent for Lakshadweep and 36.9 percent for Dadra and Nagar Haveli.," said the report.
From 2015-16 to 2017-18, there was a noticeable decline in LBW.
“Rajasthan and Haryana had the largest improvement, with over 40 percent decline in the proportion of LBW newborns. These two attributed this decline to measures such as early registration of pregnancies, early detection and management of high-risk pregnancies, regular monitoring of HMIS data," the government report said.
It also states that some of the States and UTs reported a slight increase in the proportion of newborns with LBW.
"However, 2 percentage points or more increase were noted in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Dadra and Nagar Haveli,” it revealed.
In 2018, as per NITI Aayog Health Index rankings, Jharkhand, J&K and Uttar Pradesh emerged as the top-three large states in the country in terms of annual incremental performance on health indicators.
NITI Aayog said, in 2017 the composite Health Index was disseminated first time as an attempt to promote co-operative and competitive spirit among the States and UTs and to rapidly bring about transformative action in achieving desired health outcomes.
The Health Index-2018 is second such attempt focusing on measuring and highlighting incremental improvements by over a two year period.
“The MoHFW had underlined the importance of such an exercise to link the Index with budget incentives to States and UTs under the NHM. The Index is also a tool to identify problem areas and focus their interventions in these areas," the report said.
Head Department of Paediatrics, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, Dr Muzaffar Jan attributed the lowest proportion to improved healthcare including the establishment of Sick Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) in districts.
“The infant mortality has declined at GB Pant hospital which is better than the national average. We have upgraded the neonatal care. People are now more aware,” he said.
Jan said that the under 5 mortality has also come down saying that they had been able to train doctors and paramedics staff of districts hospitals which has helped them.
As per doctors, the state has witnessed 100 percent immunization and there are very few cases of malnutrition among women.