|Photo Credits: savethechildren.org|
The initial 24 hours of a child’s life are the most dangerous with over one million newborns around the world dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to Ending Newborn Deaths, a new report by Save the Children. The research reveals of another 1.2 million tragic losses: stillbirths where the heart stopped beating during labour. In total, 2.9 million babies die in their first month. Most of these deaths occur because of premature birth and complications during birth – such as, prolonged labour, pre-eclampsia, and infection.
While acknowledging recent achievements in reducing child mortality (since 1990, the number of under-five deaths has dropped from 12 million to 6.6 million), the paper warns that progress could stall without urgent action to tackle the high rate of newborns dying, which now account for more than 4 in 10 child under-five deaths.
The authors of the report argue that to prevent newborn deaths, it is essential to provide quality health services at labour, delivery, and immediately afterwards when the risks are greatest. Approximately, 40 million mothers give birth each year without any help from a midwife or another trained health worker whilst two million mothers admitted that they last gave birth completely alone. It is estimated that skilled care during labour could reduce the number of stillbirths by 45% and prevent 43% of newborn deaths.
In a bid to save millions of newborn lives, the Alliance wants to join Save the Children in calling on world leaders, philanthropists, and the private sector to commit this year to a blueprint for change – The Five Point Newborn Promise – which focuses on ensuring that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers, and user fees for all maternal, newborn, and child health services are removed.