A total of 12,179 infants (zero to one year) died in Maharashtra between February 2020 and December 2020, during which the lockdown was imposed in view of COVID-19, a query under the Right to Information (RTI) has revealed.
The district-wise figure has shown that Mumbai, Akola, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, and Pune accounted for 4,411 infant mortalities which is 36.22% of the total deaths. During the period, Mumbai saw the highest number of deaths at 1,097 followed by Akola (783), Aurangabad (729), Nashik (664), Nagpur (587), and Pune (551). Sindhudurg (46), Latur (78), and Washim (89) are the three districts which recorded the lowest infant deaths.
The RTI query was filed by Samarthan, an NGO, which has been working in the field of human rights and malnutrition. “The information we have obtained is shocking. While the infant deaths are 12,179, the number of deaths of children between the age group of 1 and 5 is 1,872. The period of February to December last year was of lockdown,” Rupesh Keer, a coordinator with Samarthan, said.
Mr. Keer further said that they had been highlighting the problem of malnutrition in rural and tribal belt of the State, but these numbers pointed to the need to work in cities like Mumbai.
Samarthan has sent a letter to Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope highlighting the data it had received under the RTI. The letter cited various reasons for the infant deaths, which included preterm birth, malnutrition of mother and child, infection, pneumonia, and problems in breathing. “The higher number of deaths in areas with urbanisation is a concern and steps need to be taken to counter this,” the letter said.
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