ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Child Health in West Bengal

Comparison with Other Regions in India

There are few areas where the statistics are as dismal as child health in India. This paper analyses four interrelated child health indicators in West Bengal - child malnourishment (measured by the rates of stunting and wasting), prenatal, infant, and child mortality rates. It also provides evidence on how these rates vary with the gender of the child, parental education, and the wealth status of households. West Bengal does not fare badly on child health in relation to the all-India figures and does better than the rest of east India, but lags behind south India. Its performance on mortality rates is much better than India as a whole, and, quite significantly, compares favourably with those in south India. However, effective policy interventions are required to delink maternal health from child health and the importance of this cannot be overstated.

This paper was presented at a workshop on “Economic Growth in West Bengal: Challenges and Priorities” in January 2012 at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. The authors are grateful to the workshop participants for feedback on the presentation.

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