Patna: CM Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday claimed the rich families were encouraging female foeticide. Poor are God-fearing and believe children are gifts of God, said Manjhi while speaking at a political conclave on ‘No children born to die’.
The CM said those influenced by the western civilization were responsible for female foeticide. Illiterate people were more conscious about saving children.
BJP MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey said maternal and child mortality rates needed to be reduced in Bihar and brought on par with Kerala. He regretted essential drugs were not available at the government hospitals in Bihar. There was corruption even in purchase of medicines by the government agencies in the state. Fifty-eight per cent of the children in the state were malnourished. Though Bihar has been declared polio-free, children still die due to encephalitis in the state, he said.
Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, president of Bihar chapter of Indian Medical Association, in his keynote address on ‘Bihar — state of newborn and child survival’, said Bihar was at the 21st position out of 23 states covered in Indian Human Development report of the Planning Commission. According to the report, infant mortality rate in Bihar was 43 per 1,000 compared to the national average of 42, and mortality rate below the age of five years was still high at 57 against the national average of 52 per 1,000. He expressed concern over the rising mortality due to acute encephalitis syndrome and said 78% of the kala-azar victims were from Bihar.
He said in Bihar, 52% of the babies were born at home, compared to the national average of 27%. This was the reason behind a high maternal mortality rate of 219 per one lakh live births against the national average of 178. Malnutrition among children and women in Bihar is much higher than the national level.
Thomas Chandy, CEO, Save the Children campaign, appreciated the efforts made in Bihar in healthcare and said, ‘Dus Ka Dum, Swasthya Rahenge Hum’, a 10-point action agenda, would help improve healthcare system in rural areas. Over 14 lakh children below five die every year in India due to malnutrition, he said.
The programme was attended by MPs, legislators and representatives of different NGOs. Ramdhani Singh, state health minister, also spoke on the occasion.