Azmi campaigns for mothers, infants

Published: 23 November, 2011 07:37 IST | Astha Saxena |

The actor inaugurated an initiative on better facilities for newborns and women in Delhi on Tuesday

The actor inaugurated an initiative on better facilities for newborns and women in Delhi on Tuesday

Every 20 seconds, a child is dying in India due to diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which are easily preventable. These children are dying even before they are five years old. To stop this needless loss of lives, a non-governmental organisation (NGO)--Save the Children--launched its campaign 'No Child Born to Die' on Tuesday. The campaign was inaugurated by acclaimed actor Shabana Azmi, who is the ambassador of the NGO in India.

Lending a helping hand: Actor Shabana Azmi at Women's Press Corps
in New Delhi on Tuesday. PIC/Rajeev Tyagi

Good start
The campaign aims to create a people's movement to demand better healthcare facilities for every mother and child by increasing the share of budget allocation for healthcare to 5% of GDP, from the current 1.1%.
Inaugurating the campaign's web portal, Shabana Azmi said, "This is really a shocking state of affairs.

The government must invest more in health and that must reflect in the country's planning process and greater budget allocation, amounting to at least five per cent of total GDP for the health of mothers and babies. There is also a critical role of female health workers in the fight to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.
Evidence shows that countries that train and deploy more front-line female health workers have seen dramatic declines in maternal, newborn and child mortality."

Need for more
India ranks lowest in public healthcare spending (NFHS III). It is compounded by poor access to healthcare and sanitation, low literacy, lack of family planning, status of women, poverty and inequality, which poses a real challenge in providing adequate healthcare to mothers and babies. According to a report prepared by the organisation, every year, 1.73 million children die in India even before the age of five. And nearly one million of them die within the first month of their life. The primary causes of these deaths are easily preventable illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Shireen Vakil Miller, director, policy and advocacy, Save the Children, said, "India has the highest number of children dying every year than anywhere else in the world. It is important that India's civil society organisations mobilise public opinion around the issue. Our campaign aims to create mass support for demanding greater budget allocation for the health of mothers and children in the upcoming budget."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all developing countries must allocate five per cent of GDP on health. Governments in developing countries like Thailand, Costa Rica, and South Africa are spending around 3.5-5% of GDP in order to achieve universal health coverage. Developed countries spend much more.
'No Child Born to Die' is a campaign that invites citizens to get actively involved and demand the right to healthcare for children who are excluded and marginalised.

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