Dr. Parveen Kumar                                                                                             Shocking and painful, but truth it is that in 2019, 2.4 million children died in the first month of their life. This data came out of a finding of World Health Organization (WHO). Every day there are approximately 7,000 deaths each day, which constitute 47% of all child deaths (under the age of 5 years), which estimates to one-third of deaths on the day of birth and approx three-quarter deaths within the first week of life. Although the total number of newborn deaths globally showed a decline in figures from 5 million in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2019, the report also stated that newborns face the greatest risk of deaths in their first 28 days. The rate of infant mortality in India is much higher than in other developed countries. According to the findings of The United Nations ‘Child Mortality report In India’, 721,000 infant deaths were reported in 2018, which means an average of 1,975 deaths per day.
The toddlers are little and vulnerable, like the beginning of all things, a ray of hope, and a dream of possibilities. After all, they are the future and it is rightly opined that ‘today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens.’ Hence it is very important to protect the infants for the sake of a peaceful tomorrow and to make the world a better place. Children are not anyone’s property; they are neither the property of their parents nor the society but are for sure our collective responsibility. There are a number of factors for such a dismal performance. The increasing burden of the population with supplementary lack in the health service facility, lack of proper awareness, and ignorance are the leading factors mainly contributing to an increment of the mortality rate. Breastfeeding which is a boon to the newborns as mother’s milk is the main source of protein and vitamins and proves as nectar for her child is not considered unfashionable in today’s world and thus, to the lack of proper nutrition, the child succumbs to infections easily and even loses the battle of life, when it doesn’t get medical facilities on time or proper care. Most of the infants and children do not get minimum feeding. Globally, the year corresponding to the period between 2015 to 2020 saw only 44% of infants aged between 0 to 6 months being exclusively breastfed. There are several other reasons behind the high infant fatality in the country. It may be due to defects that are present by birth, preterm birth and low birth weight, injuries (e.g., suffocation), sudden infant death syndrome, complications during maternal pregnancy and can also be due to infections of various types.

With all the challenges, the world has still made an appreciative substantial progress in child survival since 1990. But still, the world and India in particular has a long way to go to improve the health facility. UNICEF has also joined hands with many organizations including government, civil society, etc in building communities and families to make a better world for the newborns.
INFANT PROTECTION DAY: Due to the lack of care and safety, the new born suffer lots of difficulties which also become threats to their life. India is among the countries having the highest number of infants mortality rate (IMR). The Indian government has taken many initiatives that include building up of excellent pre and post natal services to take care of the new born, setting up of huge infrastructure from PHCs to district level institutes, provision of trained men power down to the village level in the form of ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and much more so that they can grow and live there life without any difficulties. The new born are cute, they are infant and innocent totally unaware of the outside environment, the weather extremes and the life consuming pollution of the planet. They are a completely pure soul. But in their birth time at least for some days they are in danger and for those most important days we have to take care of them in a very serious way we have to protect them with proper safety and care. For the new born to lead a healthy life by creating awareness regarding various measures and to reduce the incidence of infant mortality among the masses, the Infant Protection Day is celebrated every year on Nov. 07. Being careful toward them becomes our priority as the ‘future of the society lies on the nobility of infants today’
THEME OF THE YEAR 2021: Continuing its tirade against the infant mortality in the country and to promote awareness about the protection of infants and children through well being of both mother and children, every year the day is celebrated with a particular theme. The theme of the Infants Protection Day for the year 2021 is all about, ‘Protecting, promoting, and developing infants’
Alarmingly the first few hours and days are the most critical ones, for both to be carefully handled for their healthy future. It has been recommended by both WHO and UNICEF that early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond are a prerequisite for the well being of newly born children.
Optimal breastfeeding is so critical that it could save the lives of over 8, 20, 000 children under the age of 5 years, each year. Under nutrition is estimated to be associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths. Breastfeeding is most important to improve & encourage the wellbeing of the child, improve their survival rates, and promote their growth and development. The starting two years are very crucial for the child as a lack of proper nutrition during this period can result in serious problems. According to sources, the first two years of a child’s life are particularly very important as the fulfillment of all the proteins and minerals can boost the child’s health or the lack of it can lead the child to suffer from under nutrition and other diseases.
On this Infants Protection Day, let us commit ourselves to provide a safer environment to the new souls and to work towards reduction of Infant mortality rate until it comes down to zero.

The author is a Scientist at KVK-Leh; can be reached at [email protected]