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  • Writer's pictureBharat Elango

The Epidemic of Preventable Deaths for Children in India

India, a country home to 1.4 billion people, has been suffering from having one of the highest amounts of premature and preventable deaths in the world for many years. Over 50% of these premature deaths are caused by treatable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, and encephalitis.

The lack of accessibility to hospitals is a huge factor for most of these deaths as India has one of the lowest hospital beds per capita in the world. India ranks 155th in 167 countries with 3 beds for every 10,000 people. For Indians, getting to a hospital is already a very difficult and arduous task. Since most Indians live in rural India, where there are not many hospitals around in case of emergencies, they are impeded from access to basic healthcare. However, even if there is a hospital nearby to treat the sick, a lot of the equipment and beds will be in use and the wait time will be egregious. According to a study, 74,000 deaths in 2016 were all easily treatable diseases that, if there were more hospitals and better healthcare, would have been drastically lower.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these treatable diseases killed more than the coronavirus all over India. Ischemic heart disease, alone, causes over 4,000 deaths every day in India even though medicine and surgery can treat it. Children are the most affected by India's poor health infrastructure because of sanitation and malnutrition rather than actual diseases. In America, 23,000 infants die every year, which may sound like a lot, however, in 2018, 721,000 infants died across India. Even if an infant survives the postnatal period, statistics showed that 882,000 children below the age of 5 died in 2018 which happened to be the highest worldwide.

Diseases are not the only problem for India's children, another issue that is as lethal and troublesome as diseases is traffic accidents. In India, 31 children die in traffic accidents every day. India's ever-growing population is causing more problems than ever because roads are becoming more populous with vehicles. 8% of all road accidents involve children, with Uttar Pradesh being the worst among them with 2,388 child deaths in 2019. Although India's Motor Vehicle Act 2019 stated that every child should wear a seatbelt and hold parents more accountable for their children, the amendment was not fully implemented and only patched a small part of the problem.

India has made great strides towards solving this mass epidemic of preventable deaths for children, however, these solutions are only slightly, and temporarily, helping to reduce the amounts of deaths. To continue fixing these issues, the government will have to reevaluate its health infrastructure and traffic laws to make India's streets safer for all children. Until action is taken, India's children will remain in jeopardy and vulnerable for many years to come.

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