13 African countries top India's infant mortality rate

Noida : Much criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra ModiÂ’s claim - wrong, as FactChecker reported - that the proportion of infants dying is lower in Somalia than KeralaÂ’s tribal areas. But with some drawing attention to the “veiled racism”-the comparison with a country in supposedly inferior Africa - that attended both the comparison and the criticism, the overall perspective is that 13 African countries have better infant mortality rates (IMR) than India, according to World Bank data. Five of the 13 countries - Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria - are from relatively prosperous Arab north Africa, but there are countries in central and southern Africa that are poorer than India but have a better infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 births). War-ravaged Libya has AfricaÂ’s lowest IMR, 12, which is the same as Kerala. Libya is followed by Tunisia (13). Goa and Manipur report IndiaÂ’s best IMR, 10, according to government data. Madhya PradeshÂ’s IMR (56) is IndiaÂ’s worst. States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) do worse than AfricaÂ’s safest countries for childbirth. For instance, Gujarat has an IMR of 38 and Rajasthan, 49. Madagascar and Kenya, with an IMR of 38, were closest to - and better than - India (42). Both countries have lower per capita income than India, according to World Bank data. Uganda, with a per capita income that is roughly half that of IndiaÂ’s, is the only African country with the same IMR as IndiaÂ’s - 42. These data underline a frequently made point that IndiaÂ’s health and human-development record lags its economic growth. There are some African countries with among the worldÂ’s highest IMRs, such as Angola, where 101 infants die for every 1,000 that are born. SomaliaÂ’s IMR is 85. (In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, with which Prachi Salve is an analyst. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. The author can be contacted at [email protected])