More than 7,400 infants have died of preventable diseases in only five blocks of Malkangiri in the last five years - a blatant reflection of the failure of Odisha Government to extend proper health care facilities to the people of State’s most backward district.
Even as the State Government dishes out facts to back its claim that infant mortality rate has dropped below 60 in the last five years, the 7,413 child deaths in Malkangiri since 2007-08 calls its bluff.
The population of Malkangiri district, as per 2011 Census, stands at 6.12 lakh and the number of children in the age group of zero to six (the category in which the deaths have occurred) is 1.05 lakh. This means the serious ailments claim at least 1.32 percent of the child population of the district every year.
Data collected through Right To Information (RTI) reveals that children in the age group of 0 to 6 have been falling victims to preventable ailments such low birth rate, acute respiratory infections, fits, birth asphyxia, abdominal problems, anaemia among other causes.
Between 2007-08 and 20011-12, the Malkangiri District Headquarters Hospital reported at least 1,968 deaths of children the 0-6 age group. The Kalimela Community Health Centre recorded 1,411 child deaths whereas Mathili and Kudmulguma CHC reported 1166 and 1068 deaths respectively. Similarly, at Podia and Pandripani CHCs, the number of children to have died in last five years stands at 756 and 659 respectively.
And there has been no let up in the deaths. Earlier this year, between September and December, at least 38 deaths were reported in six blocks and an investigation by Regional Medical Research Centre suggested that the victims were afflicted with the deadly Japanese Encephalitis.
The profile of disease load suggests that most of them are preventable in nature but absence of access to health care has caused the deaths. In Kalimela CHC, where 293 deaths were reported in 2011, saw 52 children falling victim to pneumonia alone. Another 21 deaths were caused by acute respiratory infection (ARI) while 37 deaths were due to anaemia. This year, till September, Kalimela has reported 175 deaths, according to RTI activists duo Pradip Pradhan and Pradipta Nayak who collected the information.
Malkangiri District Hospital provides another perspective to the disease load.
Of the 398 deaths recorded in 2011, 64 were caused by malaria, 60 by septicaemia, 38 by cardio vascular attacks, 33 by encephalitis and another 28 by chronic renal failure.
* The profile of disease load suggests that most of them are preventable in nature but absence of access to health care has caused the deaths
* Of the 398 deaths recorded in 2011, 64 were caused by malaria, 60 by septicaemia, 38 by cardio vascular attacks, 33 by encephalitis and another 28 by chronic renal failure