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Bihar CM leads Political Conclave to end newborn deaths, with Save the Children
Save the Children hosted a political conclave on the theme 'No Child Born to Die' with elected representatives and political leaders from Bihar in the state capital today. The state leadership present at the event included Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi, Honorable Chief Minister, as the Chief Guest, Shri Ramdhani Singh, Honorable Health Minister, as the special invitee and over 20 Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assembly and Members of Legislative Council from across political parties.

The chief minister highlighted the importance of tackling newborn deaths in the effort to improve child survival in the state. The political leadership actively engaged in the dialogue to end preventable deaths and each individual took the pledge for stepping up efforts in delivering the health services to every newborn and child in the state.

''The state has initiated various programmes to address the issue of child survival,'' Manjhi claimed, and stressed the need to focus on the girl child, right from issues related to female foeticide to ensuring an equal opportunity for girls in the society. The chief minister read out a pledge for the audience, with which everyone present committed to make efforts for reducing newborn and child mortality.

The health minister added that ''the issue of child and newborn survival is a serious concern and while Bihar has made considerable progress, we will continue to make efforts so that every child is safe.''

Save the Children acknowledged the significant efforts both by the national and state governments in prioritizing maternal and child health to achieve path-breaking reductions in the India's child mortality levels. ''If we want to achieve MDG 4 by 2015, we have to focus on ensuring survival on the first day of birth,'' Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children stated, and added: ''Our Ending Newborn Deaths' report released in February this year revealed the true scale of the newborn crisis. Without targeted action now, progress made in cutting child mortality will stall. Unless the situation of child survival improves in Bihar, India won't be able to achieve the MDG.''

Bihar is now on the wings of change, having achieved one of the highest GDP growth rates in recent years. With 'Manav Vikas Mission' the state has created a model proving that social and economic development can and must steer together. In its mission to ensure 'health for all' Bihar launched a new campaign 'Dus ka Dum, Swashthya Rahenge Hum', which is a 10 point agenda to improve the health care system in the state and to promote healthy practices among the people of Bihar.

Bihar has made commendable progress in reducing newborn mortality in the state achieving a dramatic reduction to 28 per 1000 live births better than the national average of 29.

In the panel discussion titled 'Getting to Zero: Breaking the Last Frontier- Ending Newborn Deaths', experts from Save the Children, government and civil society including Dr. Vandana Prasad (Former Member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights), Dr. T Sundararaman (Former Director, National Health Systems Resources Center), Dr. Prof. Rajiv Ranjan Prasad (President, Indian Medical Association – Bihar Chapter) and Dr. Isha Bhagwat (Save the Children's National Manager - Health) shared perspectives on newborn survival, challenges and road map.

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