Why Infant Mortality Rate Is an Important Health Indicator?

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There are various indicators of overall state of health status of a country, region and community. The health indicators are used to know health status of a country, region and community. Some indicators are widely accepted while others are not as widely accepted by health authorities. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is one such indicator of health state of country, region and community and it is widely accepted as good indicator of health state, by Governments as well as international health organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO).

What is Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)?

Infant Mortality Rate is the number of deaths of infants (below one year of age) under one year of age per 1,000 live births. For example, in a locality/city 2,510 babies were born in the year 2010. Out of 2,510 babies born, 10 were born dead. In the year 2010, in the above mentioned locality/city 20 babies died below the age of one year. To find out the IMR we need to calculate number of live births: 2,510 (total births) minus 10 (born dead) =2500. Number of live births in a year (in this example 2010) is than divided by the number of babies who died of any cause from birth defects to infection, below age of one year, which are 20 in this example.

For calculating IMR, number of deaths of babies (from any cause) below one year is divided by number of total live births in a year, which is that multiplied by 1,000 and in this case it is 20/2,500×1,000= 8.

Why infant mortality rate is accepted as important indicator of health?

It is most widely accepted as one of the most sensitive indicator of health status of a country/region due to several reasons. The IMR always reflect the overall health scenario of a region/country. The rate is low in developed countries and high to very high in developing underdeveloped countries. If health infrastructure (preventive and curative infrastructures) of a region of a country is very good, the IMR is always good.

What factors can modify IMR?

There are several factors which can influence IMR in short term or long term. Short term factors which influence IMR include natural calamities/disasters such as flood, earthquake, war (which can have long term effect, depending on the length of war), civil unrest (civil war) etc.

IMR can be different in different regions of same country, e.g. in United States it is lowest in Minnesota at 4.78 and highest in District of Columbia at 14.1.

Some countries with best IMRs in the world:

  • Iceland: 2.9
  • Singapore:3.0
  • Japan:3.2

Some countries with worst IMRs in the world:

  • Sierra Leon: 160.3
  • Afghanistan: 157
  • Liberia: 132.5

The Infant Mortality Rate for whole world at present is 49.4

The above list of IMR is from United Nations World Population Prospects.

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