5.5 million newborn and stillborn babies die every year
Washington: New data on global newborn deaths and stillbirths show 5.5 million "invisible deaths" every year.
A major new Series of papers, published in The Lancet, presents the clearest picture to date of progress and challenges in improving newborn survival around the world, and sets targets that must be achieved by 2030 in order to ensure every newborn has a healthy start.
The research is led by Professor Joy Lawn, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Save the Children, UK, with Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta at the Hospital for Sick Children, Canada, and the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, in collaboration with more than 54 experts from 28 institutions in 17 countries, and provides the evidence base and foundation for the forthcoming Every Newborn Action Plan, an evidence-based roadmap towards care for every woman, and a healthy start for every newborn baby, which will be launched in June 2014.
The Series shows that almost all of the 5.5 million newborn and stillborn babies who die every year enter and leave the world without a piece of paper; this lack of registration and official recognition reflects acceptance of these deaths as inevitable.
Preterm babies are less likely to be counted, even in rich countries, especially where they are not expected to survive.
The lack of registration is a key reason for slower progress in recent decades for newborn deaths compared to maternal and child mortality reduction - progress which can, and must, be accelerated if international child mortality targets are to be met.
"Throughout the Series, evidence and experience from some of the most improved, as well as the worst affected, countries shows that newborn and maternal deaths are preventable," Professor Bhutta said.
"Our research shows that three million lives can be saved by 2025 if achievable interventions are scaled up to nearly universal coverage, and improving care at the time of birth gives a triple return on investment saving mothers, newborns and stillbirths. Care of small and sick newborns is the next highest impact package, yet this has received little attention up to now, despite extremely cost effective solutions such as antenatal steroids and kangaroo mother care," he added.