India is
one of the 10 countries in the world with the largest survival divide between
wealthy and poor urban children. It figures in this list with Rwanda, Cambodia,
Kenya, Vietnam, Peru, Madagascar, Ghana, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

India has
also scored poorly in the Mother’s Index Rank, standing at 140 out of 179
countries. The global mother’s index measures countries on four indicators of
mothers’ wellbeing: risk of maternal death; under-five mortality rate; expected
number of years of formal schooling; the gross national income per capita; and
participation of women in government.

In India,
the percentage of the urban population living in slums is 29 per cent. This
urban poor population is 3.2 times as likely to die by the age of 5 as the
urban rich, an indicator of the rich–poor divide. According to the report, 52.7
out of 1,000 children in India die before their fifth birthday.

These are
among the key findings of the State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM) 2015 report titled
The Urban Disadvantage, prepared by international NGO Save the Children. Dr
Sudeep Gadok, director of programmes at the India chapter of Save the Children,
explains that the phenomenon of more and more people migrating to cities has
resulted in many cities not being able to keep up with breakneck growth,
leaving hundreds of millions of mothers and children in cities without access
to essential health services and clean water.

‘The India
government has made great progress in reducing the infant mortality rate (IMR)
but even today over 760,000 newborns die in India every year. Many of these
deaths are due to preventable reasons like diarrhoea, sepsis. This should not
be acceptable to an emerging economic power like India,’ says Dr Gadok.

Delhi one of the worst

The report
tells us that only 19 per cent of pregnant women in Delhi’s slums are likely to
get help from skilled attendants during childbirth. For the urban rich, it is
99 per cent. Just 27 per cent of pregnant women in these slums complete their
pre-natal visits to doctors. Also, only 56 per cent of the children there get
measles vaccination, says the report.

The widest
gaps between the rich and the poor were found in Delhi, Dhaka (Bangladesh),
Port au Prince (Haiti) and Dili (Timor-Leste). In terms of child malnutrition,
Delhi finds a place on par with Kigali (Rwanda), Distrito Central (Honduras)
and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The report, for the first time this year, looked at
the different access to healthcare for children from rich and poor families in

‘The young
children dying in city slums today—even where lifesaving care may be stone’s
throw away—represent perhaps the saddest expression of urban health system
failure, and they also represent the everyday misery faced by millions of
others,’ says the report.

Save the
Children feels that all stakeholders should pull together and complement the
efforts of the government to achieve the MDG4 (Millennium Development Goal 4). Between
1990 and 2013, the global under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) came down by half from
90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, India’s U5MR missed the
millennium development goal of 42 deaths per 1,000 live births; it stands at
52.7 deaths per 1,000 deaths.

This year,
as last, the top of the table was dominated by European countries; Norway
replaced Finland at first position. Maternal death in Norway occurs rarely and
the lifetime probability of dying in pregnancy or childbirth is just at around
1 in 15,000.

The 16th
edition of the ranking saw Finland checking in at second place, Denmark taking
the fourth spot and Sweden the fifth position. The United States ranked 33rd.