The challenge in achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) goal on reducing infant mortality is the reduction of the neonatal mortality rate. More than a quarter of child deaths worldwide in 2009 occurred in India alone. Orissa, a state in eastern India, lags behind other states in terms of child mortality indicators. At 65 per 1000 live births in 2009[3], the infant mortality rate in Orissa is the second highest inIndia. Understanding that a child’s greatest risk for mortality is during the first 28 days of life (the neonatal period), the Government of Orissa aims to lower its IMR by reducing the number of deaths that occur within this period.

UNICEF has partnered with the Government of Orissa and the NRHM to implement an initiative targeted at saving newborn lives. The initiative has established Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) to build the capacity of government hospitals to provide care specifically to neonates. The first SNCU opened in 2007 inDistrictHeadquartersHospitalin Mayurbhanj district. To date, there are 16 functional SNCUs across various districts in Orissa.

This report primarily documents SNCUs atCapitalHospitalin Khurda District andDistrictHeadquartersHospitalin Mayurbhanj District. It also includes highlights from in-depth interviews with mothers and families of SNCU patients post-discharge.

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