Pradeep Pattanayak

Even though Odisha’s life expectancy is somewhere near the national average, the ground reality paints a grim picture. 

As per the report prepared by the office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India on the basis of the Sample Registration System (SRS) data for the period 2015-19, Odisha’s life expectancy is 69.8 years and the nation’s life expectancy is 69.7 years. 

While the life expectancy of males and females in urban areas are 71.3 and 73.1 respectively, the same of males and females in rural areas are 68.0 and 70.7 respectively.

Odisha’s life expectancy was 45.7 years during the period 1970-75. Despite the fact that the life expectancy of people of Odisha has increased by 24 years during last 45 years, the social activists working in the field of health sector are not so happy. They said the maternal and child mortality rates prevailing in tribal dominated districts are disturbing. 

“The life expectancy is far low in backward and mostly tribal dominated districts. The situation in one or two districts is very disturbing” said Jagadananda, a social activist.  

As per the recent report, the life expectancy of males and females in the State are 68.5 years and 71.1 years respectively. 

Among the 22 states featured in the report, Odisha is on 15th position. 14 states which have better life expectancy include Punjab, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. 

It has been a matter of concern that why Odisha’s life expectancy is not improving in spite of several programmes being taken up for women and children. The health experts ascribe this to the problems of malnutrition and anemia being still grim in the State. The other reason includes poverty. 

“Government policies, their implementation, budget allocation, education and health standards and most importantly, attitude of the people for the government and administration will help improve our life expectancy,” said Prof Ashok Mohapatra, health expert. 

Similarly, pediatrician Dr Jagadish Prasad Sahu said, "To increase the life expectancy of children we should focus on their nutrition intake and infection prevention measures." 

Worth mentioning, while the nation’s life expectancy is 69.7 years, the same for the world is 72.6 years.