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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid