THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The confusion over the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) statistics for the 2017-18 period reported from Attappady set off a heated debate in the Assembly on Wednesday. Health Minister K K Shailaja’s statement that the total IMR reported in 2017-18 is 10 - which she highlighted as the government’s major achievement since mortality rates had been brought down - was contested by K C Joseph (Cong) who said the minister’s claim runs counter to the 34 infant mortality deaths given in the official records.
This led to claims and counterclaims between the minister and the Opposition member, with the latter accusing the government of lack of clarity in furnishing the exact statistics. “While the government report puts the IMR at 34, the Health Minister claims it is 10? So the government is unsure of the statistics. The report says ‘34 deceased infants’,” Joseph said.
Shailaja stuck to her ground saying 34 must be the total mortality rate so far. Later, P T Thomas MLA and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala rallied to Joseph’s defence, while SC/ST Minister A K Balan backed Shailaja.
The situation was defused when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker Sreeramakrishnan told the House the minister can table the actual mortality rate in the Assembly later. On the steps being taken for reducing the Mother Mortality Rate and Infant Mortality Rate, Shailaja said the Health Department had joined hands with Education Department for the implementation, with the assistance of Kerala Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. “ The government has made giant strides in reducing the Mother Mortality Rate and Infant Mortality Rate. Our target is to bring down the mortality rate to eight in 2020. We will reduce the Mother Mortality Rate to 30 by 2020,” she said.