In a country like India, around 12% of the babies born every year are premature. And though the incidence of pre-term babies is on the rise, the survival rate is much higher with the rise in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU), which are equipped with sophisticated surfactants, ventilators and other machinery that helps the infant survive.
A prematurely born baby requires a lot of care and its condition has to be monitored constantly. The surfactant required for children who suffer from respiratory distress costs between $120 and $150 per dose, while the daily cost of using a ventilator ranges from $30 to $75. A seven month-old child may have to be kept in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for over 20 days, so we're looking at a hefty hospital fee of over $3000 which is not an easy amount to spare in India, given that not everyone carries an insurance policy to cover the same.
Most of the hi-tech health care institutions provide good NICU capabilities which only the affluent ones are able to afford. The larger problem lies in the inaccessibility to an intensive care unit. Due to sheer ignorance, a large part of the population, irrespective of their financial status, chooses local nursing homes with only a birthing facility without any arrangements for an intensive care unit or even a close proximity to one. Pregnancy, in general, is pursued as a secretive affair here and a lot of people refrain from preparing for any untoward situations like premature births, leading to the above. The government health care units do provide such care units at a lot of places, however, population issue gets the better of it and the number of premature babies waiting to be incubated outnumbers the available units anytime.
So, such a situation poses two issues - one, easy access to the NICUs and two, affordability of the same. Due to one or both these reasons, a lot of babies who could have survived, do not.