November 17, 2008

India falls behind neighbours in health, social indicators: UN

If health and social indicators are anything to go by, then India lags behind its neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka who are considered to be economically much weaker, says a latest UN report.

While India has an infant mortality rate of 54 per 1000 live births, neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka have the rate of just 51, 44, 53 and 11 per thousand respectively.

The only exception to this is Pakistan which has a higher infant mortality rate of 67. On the other hand, China enjoys the distinction of having an infant mortality rate of just 23, says the report.

The report 'State of World Population 2008' prepared by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that India lags behind its neighbours in terms of life expectancy also.

While Indian males have a life expectancy of 63.3 years, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans have 63.4, 65.4 and 68.8 years respectively while China has 71.4 years.

But when it comes to life expectancy of women, Indians are ahead though still much behind Chinese and Sri Lankans.

Indian women have life expectancy of 66.6 years whereas Bangladesh has 65.3 and Pakistan has 65.9. While China has a high female life expectancy of 74.9, it is still behind Sri Lanka with 76.3 years.

Reproductive health indicators point out contraceptive prevalence in India (any method) at 56 per cent among the married or couples entering consensual sex, while it is 58 per cent in Bangladesh and 70 per cent in Sri Lanka. Iran, which falls in South Central Asia has a contraceptive prevalence rate of 74 per cent. When it comes to modern contraceptive methods, Iran with 56 per cent is far ahead than the rest seven countries in the region including India with 49 per cent.

India with 62 births per 1000 women in the age group 15-19 years leads Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with 20, 36 and 25 respectively. China walks away with the cake with just eight births per 1,000 women in the same group.

While India has 47 per cent births under skilled supervision, Pakistan does much better with 54 and Sri Lanka with 97 per cent.

In terms of improved drinking water sources, India again lags behind some of its neighbours. Pakistan tops the list with 91 per cent of the population having access to clean drinking water followed by Nepal with 90 per cent, whereas in India the percentage is 86.

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