30, May 2018
According to a study recently published in the online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal Lancet Global Health, annually, there have been 2,39,000 “excess deaths” of girls under five in India. This translates to 2.4 million excess deaths every decade. Excess mortality is the difference between expected mortality rates and observed mortality rates for both genders. Researchers said they “used data from 46 countries with no evidence of gender bias for mortality to estimate the effects and intensity of excess female mortality at district level” for comparison with data from India. The excess mortality rate in girls under five in the period of 2000-2005 was 18.5 for every 1,000 live births in India, which amounts to an estimate 2,39,000 excess deaths annually. “More than 90% of districts had excess female mortality, but the four largest states in northern India (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh) accounted for two-thirds of India’s total number. Low economic development, gender inequity, and high fertility were the main predictors of excess female mortality,” the study explained. The study’s lead author Nandita Saikia, of Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, told The Hindu that “Around 22% of the overall mortality burden of under-five females is therefore due to gender bias”. The study noted, “High fertility is the strongest predictor of postnatal discrimination against girls, suggesting that excess deaths of girls is partly a consequence of unwanted childbearing and ensuing neglect of female children.” The complete study may be read here.