Newborn Survival Rates Flagging Globally
Investments through the last decade in the healthcare of women and children, especially in Africa, have paid off with healthy declines in maternal death rates and deaths of children under five. Improvements, however, in the survival of babies in their first four weeks of life have been slower, Reuters is reporting.
“Newborn survival is being left behind despite well-documented, cost-effective solutions to prevent these deaths,” said Flavia Bustreo, a World Health Organization (WHO), expert in family, women’s and children’s health who worked on the study.
The research from WHO reveals newborn deaths decreased overall from 4.6 million in 1990 to 3.3 million in 2009, but began falling slightly faster from 2000 to 2009.
Mortality rates of newborns in their first four weeks of life now account for 41 percent of all child deaths before the age of five, a share which has grown from 37 percent in 1990 and is likely to increase further, the researchers tell AFP.
The three leading causes of newborn death – preterm delivery, asphyxia and severe infections – are relatively easy to prevent with proper care.
“This study shows in stark terms that where babies are born dramatically influences their chances of survival,” added Joy Lawn of the health charity Save the Children. “Millions of babies should not be dying when there are proven, cost-effective interventions to prevent the leading causes of newborn death.”
Ninety-nine percent of newborn or neonatal deaths, deaths in the first four weeks of life, occur in the developing world and because of their large populations, more than half of these deaths happen in five countries — India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Afghan babies face the greatest risks — with one in 19 dying in the first month of life. India has more than 900,000 newborn deaths per year, nearly 28 percent of the global total.
Nigeria, the world’s seventh most populous country, now ranks second in newborn deaths up from fifth in 1990, while China moved from second to fourth place.
“This study shows in stark terms that where babies are born dramatically influences their chances of survival, and that especially in Africa far too many mothers experience the heartbreak of losing their baby,” said co-author Dr. Joy Lawn.
“Millions of babies should not be dying when there are proven, cost-effective interventions to prevent the leading causes of newborn death.”
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