At 47.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, India in 2015 had more deaths among children under five than any other country, new research has found.
This is despite the great progress the country has made in reducing child mortality. During 2000-2015, the annual mortality among children under five came down from 2.5 million in 2000 to 1.2 million in 2015, said the study published in the journal Lancet Global Health.
The country had, however, large disparities in the under five mortality rate between richer and poorer states.
The highest mortality rate, in Assam, a state in northeastern India, was more than seven times that in the western state of Goa.
Although most under five deaths were due to preterm complications, preventable infectious diseases featured prominently as causes of death in higher-mortality states.
"India can accelerate its reduction of under five mortality rates by scaling up vaccine coverage and improving childbirth and neonatal care, especially in states where mortality rates remain high," said study co-lead author Li Liu, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.
For the study, the researchers analysed state-level Indian data on the causes of death among children under five for the years 2000-2015.
In 2017, India's under-five mortality rate matched the global average (39 deaths per 1,000 live births), according to a report released on September 18, 2018, by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.