Almost 3 million newborns could be saved each year


Almost 3 million newborns could be saved each year

Global News 00:00
NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 20 May 2014 – A ground-breaking series of papers released by The Lancet at UNICEF Headquarters today shows that the majority of the almost 3 million children who die before they turn one month old could be saved if they received quality care around the time of birth – with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and under-served.
Newborn deaths account for a staggering 44 per cent of total mortality among children under five, and represent a larger proportion of under-five deaths now than they did in 1990. These deaths tend to be among the poorest and most disadvantaged populations.
A woman holds the hand of her newborn at the KBC Zvezdara Maternity Hospital in Belgrade, the capital. A UNICEF-supported programme in the hospital teaches women how to care for their newborns, part of an effort to support families and prevent child institutionalization.  In June 2011 in Serbia, the proportion of children deprived of parental care is increasing, reflecting trends throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The region has the world’s greatest rate of children growing up in formal alternative care settings, which range from institutionalization to foster care. Some 1.3 million children in the region grow up in formal alternative care, including 626,000 children who live in residential institutions. While rates of child institutionalization in the region have remained stagnant, the overall placement of children in formal care is increasing, often a response to disability or poverty. And in Serbia, child institutionalization rates appear to be increasing, from 349 per 100,000 children in 2004 to 400 per 100,000 children in 2006. Still, Serbia is one of only two countries in the region to approve laws that prohibit the institutionalization of infants (the other is Romania). Institutional care for children under age three is known to be damaging to their mental and emotional development, inhibiting cognitive and speech development, impairing intelligence, and contributing to emotional detachment.  Serbia is also one of only four countries in the region to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Children with actual or perceived disabilities are at greater risk of being institutionalized and of being abused while in residential care. UNICEF urges Governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia to immediately end the institutionalization of children under age three, to allocate resources to support vulnerable families, to provide alternative services for children with disabilities, and to make the needs and rights of the youngest children a priority in policymaking.


A woman holds the hand of her newborn at the maternity hospital in Belgrade, where a UNICEF-supported programme in the hospital teaches women how to care for their newborns.

Village: TIDI, Block: Girwa, District: Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. September 6, 2012.   A two day old child sleeps next to its mother at a maternity ward of the Primary Health Care Center (PHC) in Tidi.  Members of IKEA Foundation and UNICEF delegation visit a Primary Health Centre (PHC), Tidi.  The delegation interacted with doctors, staff and patients, observing essential and critical maternal and child survival interventions getting closer to remote families and communities.  They were exposed to the various services like Ante-Natal Care services, labour room, newborn care unit, Pre Natal Care services available at the center.   The IKEA Foundation team along with UNICEF visit the field to see some of its projects related to Sunnan lamps, cotton projects and child survival in rural Rajasthan. The IKEA Foundation has supported UNICEF programs for more than a decade and has a corporate partnership with IKEA, working at an international and local level. â??By working together for the past 10 years, and contributing more than â?¬100 million ($125 million US*) to UNICEF projects in India so far, we have created opportunities for more than 74 million children,â? explained Per Heggenes, CEO at IKEA Foundation. â??By thinking long-term and teaming-up with UNICEF, weâ??re giving hope to many millions of families.â? UNICEF India/2012/ Prashanth Vishwanathan


A two days old child sleeps next to its mother at a maternity ward of the Primary Health Care Center (PHC) in Tidi.

“We have seen tremendous progress in saving children under five, but where the world has stumbled is with the very youngest, most vulnerable children,” said Dr Mickey Chopra, head of UNICEF’s global health programmes. “This group of children needs attention and resources. Focusing on the crucial period between labour and the first hours of life can exponentially increase the chances of survival for both mother and child.”
According to UNICEF, 2.9 million babies die each year within their first 28 days. An additional 2.6 million babies are still-born, and 1.2 million of those deaths occur when the baby’s heart stops during labour. The first 24 hours after birth are the most dangerous for both child and mother – almost half of maternal and newborn deaths occur then.
The Lancet’s Every Newborn series identifies the most effective interventions in saving newborns, including breastfeeding; newborn resuscitation; ‘kangaroo care’ for premature babies – that is, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother; and preventing and treating infections. More funding and adequate equipment are also vital.
Countries that have made the most progress in saving newborn lives have paid specific attention to this group as part of the overall care extended to mothers and under-fives. Rwanda – alone among sub-Saharan African countries – halved the number of newborn deaths since 2000. Some low and middle-income countries are making remarkable progress by, among other methods, training midwifes and nurses to reach the poorest families with higher quality care at birth, especially for small or ill newborns.
A survey of 51 countries with the highest burden of newborn deaths found that if the quality of care received by the richest were to become universal, there would be 600,000 fewer deaths per year – an almost 20 per cent reduction.
The highest numbers of newborn deaths per year are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with India (779,000), Nigeria (267,000) and Pakistan (202,400) leading. For the highest burden countries, every HK$7.8 (US$1) invested in a mother’s or baby’s health gives a nine-fold return on investment in social and economic benefit.
A new born baby from a displaced family lies on a bed at the Mardan Medical Complex, where displaced pregnant women living in camps and communities are referred for delivery./More than 2.5 million people have been displaced since fighting began in PakistanÕs North West Frontier Province in August 2008. More than half of those displaced are children and need urgent humanitarian assistance. About 200,000 live in refugee camps and the rest in host communities. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) out of the 6,000 displaced pregnant women some 4,300 are due to give birth in June. To tackle the lack of enough medics available and of emergency obstetric and neonatal care in the camps, UNICEF is supporting the establishment of four Maternal and Child Health Units in different camps.


A new born baby lies on a bed at the Mardan Medical Complex in Pakistan.

Rekha Verma holds her four days old son in the feeding room of  the Sick New-Born Care Unit (SNCU at the district hospital Guna, Madhya Pradesh. Despite being one of the most mineral rich states in India, with vast hoards of diamonds, Madhya Pradesh is one of the poorest with 40% of its population living in poverty. The state also has some of the worst development statistics in India. Of every 1000 births in Madhya Pradesh -  310 mothers will die, while 59 new-borns will die for every 1000 live births - one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, and compares starkly with Kerala for example where 14 infant will die out of 1000 births. This number jumps to 63 newborn deaths for every 1000 live births in rural areas.  UNICEF India/ 2013/ Manpreet Romana


A mother holds her four days old son in the feeding room of the Sick New-Born Care Unit in India.

UNICEF and World Health Organization will roll out next month the Every Newborn Action Plan which aims to end preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035.
The Lancet’s Every Newborn series is co-authored by experts from UNICEF, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Agha Khan University, Pakistan, among others.
The launch came on the day UNICEF kicked off its 6-month countdown to the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will highlight the tremendous progress made for children and the remaining challenges faced by the most disadvantaged among them.