UNICEF has warned that global deaths of newborn babies remain high, particularly in poor countries with the Central African Republic, Somalia, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Chad among the worst places to give birth.
In a new child mortality report, the children’s emergency fund said babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore had the best chance at survival. Pakistan has the worst record with one newborn baby dying in every 22 births. Henrietta Fore, Unicef ’s executive director, said while we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old. Given that most of these deaths are preventable, she said, we are clearly failing the world’s poorest babies. The report says the global newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1 000 births. In high-income countries, that rate is three deaths per 1 000.
Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places. The reportn lso notes that eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery.
This is due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. Unicef said if every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16- million lives could be saved. More than 80 percent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition.
However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive. For example, while in Norway there are 218 doctors, nurses and midwives to serve 10 000 people, that ratio is one per 10 000 in Somalia. Unicef said before the end of this month it will launch Every Child ALIVE – a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns.
Through the campaign, Unicef is issuing an appeal to governments, healthcare providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care. Unicef is also calling for the provision of clean, functional health facilities within the reach of every mother and baby.