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he MDG-4 calls for a two-third reduction of under-five mortality by 2015. In spite of the worldwide progress in child
survival, the countdown to 2015 reported that out of 68 priority countries, 17 countries (mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa
and South Asia) have shown no progress and 32 countries have shown insufficient progress to meet the MDG-4. India is the
home to the largest child population in the world. Nearly 27 million babies are born in India each year; accounting for 20%
of global births. The current perinatal mortality rates according to the National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06) is 49/1000
total births. However, this could be a gross under estimate of the true perinatal mortality rate in the country given the high
propensity for not reporting the stillbirths. Reaching the MDG on reducing child mortality will require universal coverage
with key effective, affordable interventions which could reduce the number of deaths by more than half. Mortality data are
important indicators of population health and are crucial for setting priorities for health interventions and research. A reliable
assessment of disease-specific mortality rates is not yet possible in many parts of India, either because the underlying cause
of the terminal illness was never known or because the relevant information was not recorded. Since about two-thirds of the
deaths are taking place at home, the verbal autopsy tool which can be used by health workers could provide missing vital
demographic data as well as cause of death. Perinatal death audit discussions with key people in respective communities will
promote an inter-sectoral problem-solving approach in reducing perinatal deaths.
Paramita Sengupta did her MBBS in 1996 and obtained an MD in Community Medicine in 2001. She is working as a Professor in Community Medicine in Christian
Medical College, Ludhiana, Punjab, since the last 4 years. She has considerable expertise in developing and implementing community based programs and
also is the Principal Investigator of a number of research projects funded by Indian Council of Medical Research, one of which is on perinatal death audit. She
has evaluated the District and Community level health facilities according to the National Rural Health Mission for Uttarakhand. Apart from having administrative
responsibilities, as well as undergraduate/ postgraduate teaching, she is also a consultant Faculty/Trainer for a number of training courses.
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