The infant mortality rate in West Bengal has been brought down considerably in the recent past, the chief of UNICEF in the state, Md Mohiuddin, said today.

Mr Mohiuddin was speaking during the celebration of International Child Rights Day, and 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, organised by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights and UNICEF.

“West Bengal has come a long way in controlling infant and child mortality rates,” informed Mr Mohiuddin.

The neo-natal mortality rate, which was 21 per thousand live births in the year 2012, has come down to 17 in the year 2017. Also, the infant mortality rate that was 32 per thousand live births was reduced to 25 in the year 2017. Additionally, the institutional delivery in West Bengal has reached 98 per cent,” he added.

As mortality rate among the newborn is a crucial subject, the state government is laying emphasis on setting up of Special Care Units for Newborns’ that are like intensive care units for infants. As informed by Mr Mohiuddin, in 2011 the number of such units was six, which have now gone up to 77 in the year 2019.

In terms of gender discrimination, however, the state and the country in general still have to go a long way, according to the chief of UNICEF in the state.

“It is observed in the study that in the special care units for babies, the male infants are admitted in the SCUs while the female ones are neglected. Even if the female infants are admitted, the family members visiting them at the SPUs, are generally their mother or grandmother and not the father,” added Mr Mohiuddun.

Voicing similar assertions, minister of state for Women and Child Welfare and Social Welfare department, Dr Shashi Panja, informed that the department is focussed on prevention of human trafficking. “Before 2011, the focus was on rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. But now we are focussing on prevention of trafficking,” said the minister.