Saving the Newborns

One million babies do not survive their first day of birth. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan, Nigeria, B’Desh, Afghanistan record high incidence of deaths of newborns.

One million babies did not survive their first – and only – day of life in 2012 across the world. Going by this the day of birth is the most crucial day or most dangerous day.
2.9 million babies died within 28 days of being born in 2012 across the world. The number of deaths in this newborn period is four times higher in Africa than it is in Europe.
6.6 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2012, most from preventable causes.
This number has almost been halved since 1990, but still means that 18,000 children died every day.
There were 1.2 million stillbirths in 2012 where the heart stopped beating during labour.
The global shortage of midwives, nurses and doctors: 7.2 million.
51% of births in sub-Saharan Africa were not attended by a midwife or other properly qualified health worker. This percentage is 41% in south-east Asia.
950,000 of newborn deaths could be prevented each year if essential health services were more equitably distributed. This would reduce newborn mortality by 38%
40 million of mothers across the world give birth each year without any help from a midwife or other trained and equipped health worker. 2 million women report that when they last gave birth they were completely alone.
Increasing health expenditure by just US$5 per person per year could prevent the deaths of 147 million children and 5 million women, and 32 million stillbirths – and result in economic and social benefits worth up to nine times that investment by 2035.
The percentage of deliveries attended by a skilled health worker in rural areas is 40% while it is 76% in urban area in the least developed countries.
Universal coverage of skilled qualified birth attendance could be achieved by 2025 if we double the current rate of progress. If the rate doesn’t increase, this won’t be achieved until 2043.
Child Mortality Halved
The world has made remarkable progress in the fight to end child mortality in recent years. Since 1990, the number of children who die every year before the age of five has been halved – from 12.6 million to 6.6 million. Despite this the child mortality (or child’s death) remains the greatest shames of the modern world. Every day 18,000 children under five die and most from preventable causes.
The reduction if children’s death has been achieved through immunization family planning, nutrition and treatment of childhood illnesses as well as improving economies. But more can be achieved by tackling the life-threatening dangers kids face.
One million babies who died within 24 hours of their birth, died because of premature birth, complications during birth and infections.
In 2012 there were another 1.2 million tragic losses: stillbirths where the heart stopped beating during labour. These are not part of the fourth UN Millennium Development Goal, which aims to reduce child mortality by two-thirds. However, they deserve to be counted in future maternal, newborn and child health frameworks, especially to understand the specific risks around labour and delivery.
Births without Attendants
40 million mothers still give birth each year without any help from a midwife or another health worker trained and equipped to save the life of the baby or the mother. 51% of births in sub-Saharan Africa and 51% in South-east Asia are not attended by any midwife or professionally qualified health worker. Millennium Development Goal 5, on reducing maternal mortality, set a target of 80% coverage of skilled birth attendance by 2005, 85% by 2010 and 90% coverage by 2015. But the world is way off track. By 2012 the global rate had only reached 70%.
Need for Skilled Birth Attendants
The key way to stop newborn deaths is to ensure that essential care is provided around
labour, delivery and immediately afterwards when the risks are greatest. That means having a skilled, well-equipped birth attendant available to assist women and newborns during delivery. Skilled care during labour could reduce the number of stillbirths during labour by 45%
ending newborn deaths and prevent 43% of newborn deaths.
Around 10% of all newborns in every country need assistance to begin breathing.
One Million Newborns Can be Saved
Research commissioned for this report estimates that fairer distribution of essential health services in 47 key countries could prevent the deaths of 950,000 newborns – reducing newborn mortality in these countries by 38%.
The sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the highest rate of first-day deaths of the newborns. The reasons for this are:
High numbers of preterm birth and of low birthweight babies.
Poor maternal health and nutrition.
Girls and young women having children at a young age.
Low contraception use.
Lack of healthcare for mothers, with only half of all women in sub-Saharan Arica having skilled care during birth.
Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone and Somalia were found to have fewer than two doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people (the critical threshold is generally considered to be 23). Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have six to seven health workers per 10,000 people.
7.79 lakh Neonatal Deaths in India
Of the three million neonatal deaths globally in 2012, some 779,000 were in India. Nigeria comes second with about one-third of India’s figure. Also, globally there were 2.6 million stillbirths in the same year, of which 600,000 were in India. Since about half of all stillbirths occur close to delivery and could potentially be prevented, the story becomes even more sad.
In India, among the wealthiest 20% of the population the newborn mortality rate is 26 per 1,000 babies, whereas among the poorest households 56 newborn babies out of 1,000 die in their first month of life.
Need for Better Spacing
Lack of spacing between pregnancies is also closely linked with child mortality. Children born less than two years after a sibling are two times more likely to die within the first year of life than those born after three or more years
Some countries and regions have made much more progress in reducing newborn deaths than others. Between 1990 and 2012, China and Egypt saw declines of over 60%.
Causes of death of Newborns: Over a third newborns (34%) die because of pre-term (or premature as is known in India) birth complications. 24% due to complications during birth; 12% due to sepsis/meningitis; 10% due to pneumonia; 9% due to congenital abnormalities; 2% due to tetanus; 2% due to diarrohoea, an 6% due to other reasons.
This report is based on information extracted from Ending Newborn Deaths: Ensuring Every Baby Survives by NGO Save the Children, London. It has been written by Simon Wright and Christen Mathieson.
(For full report log on to: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files)

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