Worldwide fewer newborns are dying but WHO and Save The Children stress that the progress is slow and Africa is being left further behind. That is the findings of a new study released yesterday in the medical journal PLoS Medicine.
In 2009 3.3 million newborns died, fewer than the 4.6 million in 1990. During the last decade there has been a higher investment in health care for mothers and their children. In 2000 the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were put into place.
The figures of the study count newborn deaths as the first four weeks of life. These deaths count for 41 percent of all child deaths under the age of five.
The first weeks of live are the riskiest for children. Many undeveloped countries are in the beginning stages of postnatal care programs which in the future are expected to increase the odds of survival.
Three quarters of newborn deaths are a result of preterm delivery, asphyxia and infections. Two thirds of the deaths can be prevented with existing interventions but those programs have to be reach those in need.
“Newborn survival is being left behind despite well-documented, cost-effective solutions to prevent these deaths,” said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women's and Children's Health in a press release. “With four years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, more attention and action for newborns is critical.”
Just over 1 percent of newborn deaths take place in the developed world. More than half of the deaths take place in one of five countries, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Democratic Republic of the Congo. India's infant deaths account for 28 percent of the global total.
Africa has only reduced their infant death rate by 1 percent in the past decade. It's progress is the slowest in the world. For every 1,000 babies born more than 39 will not survive their first four weeks of live.
“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 of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program. “Millions of babies should not be dying when there are proven, cost-effective interventions to prevent the leading causes of newborn death.”