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Assam Floods: This Viral Video of a New Dad and Baby Also Tells a Bleak Story

Although the video is adorable, it's impossible to ignore the grim backdrop of flood struck Assam.

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As Assam continues to grapple with fierce floods, visuals of death and destruction continue to flood the internet.

Amid all these grim videos, one particular little clip that surfaced on Father's Day from Silchar managed to put a smile on the faces of thousands online.

In the now viral video, a beaming father is seen wading through chest-high waters, carrying his newborn baby in a basket like a newly won trophy. It's all very cute.

But what can't be ignored is the backdrop of this unusual site.

What should be a happy occasion is marred by the fierce floods that threaten to submerge this father and child duo's hometown, Silchar, like many other parts of Assam, right now.

This short video also tells a much longer story about the precarious situation into which children are born in India every day. And the reality is Not so cute.

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67,385 babies are born in India every day. But around 2,021 of them won't even make it past their 5th birthday.

In fact, according to UNICEF 600,000 children in India die within 28 days of their birth each year.

As of 2019, the Infant Mortality Rate in India stands at 30 per 1000 live births. And Assam has one of the highest rates of infant mortality at 40 per 1000 live births.

Which means, even on the best of days, the chances of a newborn dying before they turn 5 are worryingly high.

What happens then when the town you're born into is practically submerged?

According to UNICEF, 80 percent of neonatal deaths in India are from preventable and treatable causes such as

  • Premature birth

  • Complications during delivery

  • Infections

And guess what, the risk of all of these issues skyrocket during natural disasters like floods.

Why Is Assam Flooding?

Assam is no strangers to floods, in recent years, soil erosion on the banks of the river Brahmaputra has caused it to change its course, and overflow when met with heavy rains.

In a matter of 24 hours, southern Assam’s biggest town — Silchar was practically submerged.

This is where the new father was seen carrying his baby in a basket, trying to hold the child above the water level.

UNICEF has, in the past, warned of the implications of climate change on neonatal and maternal health.

There is plenty of evidence to show that babies who have been exposed to effects of climate change while still in the womb, have a higher risk of metabolic disorders, abnormal neurodevelopmental, and higher rates of congenital defect.

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And once the baby is born, they become vulnerable to a string of waterborne and vector borne diseases right away. Even before their immune system has had time to prepare its defences.

According to the WHO, such conditions as this one here, are prime grounds for cholera and malaria outbreaks and also Hepatitis E, a disease deadly to pregnant women and their babies.

In India, around 500,000 children die of diarrhoea due to water-borne disease each year -most of these are children under five.

These are some other illnesses that babies and their parents are at high risk of contracting during floods.

There is also the question of access to emergency care. What happens if this baby or the mother need medical attention?

Back in 2017, a 200-bed mother and child care centre was inaugurated at Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH), with the aim of combatting the high infant and maternal mortality rate in Assam.

But in a situation like this, how accessible are these health centres? Are there enough alternative services that can bring medical aid to people who can't make it to the hospitals?

The rate at which climate change and natural disasters are accelerating, if we are to ensure the life of this newborn baby and others like it not only survive, but also thrive, and dad's like this one get to watch their babies grow into healthy happy people, we have to address the gaps in our healthcare, and it's important we do it now.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Viral Video   Video   Silchar 

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