At least 64 children below the age of six died every day in the last year in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, and its infant mortality rate is worse that some African countries.
The government was forced to come up with the revised figure after former chief ministerBabulal Gaur accused the state government of providing misleading information on malnourished children in Sheopur district, to the State Assembly.
"The Health departments report stated that 116 malnourished children died last year but Minister for Women and Child Development (Archana Chitnis) is claiming that no death was reported due to malnutrition during 2015 and 2016," Gaur had pointed out in the House.
Minister for women and development Archana Chitnis later revealed in the state assembly that 25,440 children in the age group of 0-6 years lost their lives due to diseases like diarrhoea, measles, in one year, reported Hindustan Times.
Madhya Pradesh, one of the BIMARU states, has the highest infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country with 52 deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births. It also has highest death rate in the rural areas with over 8 deaths in a year per 1,000 people,as per a 2014 survey done by the registrar general of India, the paper had reported earlier.
BIMARU is an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh coined in 1980 by the demographer Ashish Bose in the 1980s. Bose studied a range of demographic indicators, including birth and death and infant mortality rates, to conclude that these states, home to 40% of the country’s population, were contributing the most to India’s population explosion and development laggards. They are still miles away from national average on a majority of indicators.
According to experts, high infant mortality in India's hearland state was due to health sector suffering from many issues ranging from shortage of doctors to lack of proper primary healthcare infrastructure in rural areas.
Going by the popular official narrative, Madhya Pradesh dismal performance should be attributed to lack of spending power. But rich states like Delhi and Gujarat too, continue to have unreasonably high infant mortality rates It spotlights the fact that there is little debate on the poor show on health indices and the inability to fix accountability.
And the best performers in terms of infant mortality rate? Goa, Manipur and Kerala.