India’s IMR – defined as the number of babies under one year old who die per thousand live births – improved over the decade between 2009 and 2019 from 50 to 30, but is still worse than Bangladesh and Nepal, both at 26, although better than Pakistan (56).
All states showed improvement in IMR over the previous year. However, after showing a remarkable 11-point improvement from 50 to 39 from 2009 to 2014, it has slowed down over the past five years. Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal are among the large states showing accelerating improvement. In the case of Kerala, after stagnating at an IMR of 12 from 2011 to 2015, it has improved to 6 in the past five years, a level that matches that of the United States.
The states that have experienced the biggest slowdown in improving their IMR are Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. From a double-digit improvement between 2009 and 2014, the pace of improvement in these states slowed to single digits. Improvement in IMR tends to slow down as it decreases, but most of these conditions are at a level where this would not apply.
After Kerala, Delhi has the lowest TMI of 11, followed by Tamil Nadu (15) among the largest states. Globally, the lowest IMR of 2 was recorded in Finland, Norway, Iceland, Singapore and Japan. India’s IMR for 2019 is about a quarter of what it was in 1971 (129). IMR is widely accepted as a crude indicator of a country’s overall health scenario.