Child death rate
Child death rateReuters

India has the third-highest child mortality rate — the number of children per 1,000 live births who die under the age of five — among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, with 48 deaths reported per 1,000 live births, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, the Press Trust of India reports.

According to a World Bank report, Afghanistan has the highest child mortality rate at 91 followed by Pakistan at 81 among the SAARC countries, also which include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka .

The ministry quoted figures from the Office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI) in its report.

"In India, the ORGI releases reliable estimates of child deaths in terms of child mortality rate also called under-five mortality rate (U5MR) using data collected through sample registration system (SRS)," Gandhi said in a written reply.

The U5MR, according to ORGI, has seen a gradual decline. The U5MR was 85, 77, 59, 55, 52 and 49, in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The minister said India is likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) — set by the United Nations — to reduce child mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

"As per SRS 2013, the U5MR is at 49 deaths per 1000 live births. It is likely to reach 48 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2015, missing the target narrowly," the minister said.

The U5MR, as per Millennium Development Goals India Country Report 2015, was estimated at 125 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990.

For India to achieve the MDG, the U5MR is to be reduced to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births

According to a report in medical journal The Lancet, India does not figure in the list of 62 countries who have achieved this MDG. Nepal and Bangladesh are the two SAARC countries who feature in the list, The Indian Express reported.