News / Africa

Study: Millions of Newborns Die Needlessly

An internally displaced Somali woman carries her child as they wait to receive food aid at a distribution centre at Badbaado settlement camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 18, 2011
An internally displaced Somali woman carries her child as they wait to receive food aid at a distribution centre at Badbaado settlement camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, August 18, 2011

Multimedia

Joe DeCapua

Each year, millions of babies die within the first few weeks of life. A new report from the World Health Organization and Save the Children says many of those newborn deaths are easily preventable.

“This is the most comprehensive picture that we have to date of what’s happening for newborn deaths around the world and over time. And these estimates look at 193 countries and over 20 years,” said Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children, co-author of the study.

She said newborns are “barely on the global health agenda.”

So young, so vulnerable

“Every year, in the first month of life, there are 3.3 million babies who die. This is a huge number of deaths. It sounds overwhelming, but each of those deaths is a mother who has lost a baby, a family who has lost an expected life. And so we shouldn’t let the numbers overwhelm each individual tragedy that’s behind those,” she said.

Newborn deaths make up over 40 percent of child deaths worldwide.

India has the highest number of newborn deaths each year – more than 900,000. India, along with Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounts for more than half of the 3.3 million deaths.

Slow progress

“In certain areas,” said Lawn, “particularly Africa, there’s been very little progress. The average annual rate of reducing newborn deaths in Africa is less than one percent per year. It’s almost the same as no change.”

At that slow rate of progress, Lawn says it’ll take 155 years for African babies to have the same chance of survival that babies in high income countries have today.

The WHO / Save the Children report cites three main causes of newborn deaths. The first is pre-term delivery, being born too early.

“Doing simple things, like keeping them warm, feeding them better, treating infections, would save them,” she said.

The second leading cause of death for newborns is complications during delivery. “So lack of care at the time of birth, having a midwife, having access to safe care at birth would save the baby and the mother,” said Lawn.

A midwife saved her life.

“I’m a baby born in Africa. I was born in the bush of northern Uganda and my mother had complications in childbirth. And she nearly died and I would have died if people hadn’t made a difference,” she said.

She said having more midwives and healthcare workers in rural areas is critical. The third leading cause of death is infection.

“Here simple prevention – not delivering a baby onto a dirty floor, not putting dirty things on the cord, breastfeeding the baby, giving antibiotics – these are all things that would save these babies lives,” she said.

Lawn is the head of Saving Newborn Lives, a program of Save the Children. She said more investment is needed. But she says that means investing in the “right things to do” for child and maternal care.

“This is particularly critical for the Millennium Development Goals. We now only have four years left until that target in 2015,” she said.

The report says even the United States is not immune from the problem. It says 19,000 newborns die in the U.S. each year. That’s a higher newborn death rate than 40 other countries.

Related video by Vidushi Sinha

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs