News / Health

Report: Pakistan Has Highest Infant Mortality Rate

FILE - Pakistani hospital staff members attend newly born babies in Karachi, Pakistan.
FILE - Pakistani hospital staff members attend newly born babies in Karachi, Pakistan.
VOA News
More than one million babies die worldwide each year on their first day of life, according to new research published by the British charity Save the Children.

The report, "Ending Newborn Deaths," said in 2012 Pakistan had the highest rate of first day deaths and stillbirths at 40.7 per 1,000 births, followed by Nigeria (32.7), Sierra Leone (30.8), Somalia (29.7), Guinea-Bissau (29.4) and Afghanistan (29.0).

An official of Save the Children working in Pakistan told VOA’s Deewa Radio that Pakistan needs to do a lot to save the newborns.

"Every year 200,000 babies die in Pakistan in the first one month of their birth.  This puts Pakistan far behind in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals which call for reducing infant mortality by two thirds by 2015," said Arshad Mehmood.

In Pakistan fewer than half of women had a skilled health worker present at birth.  The report said attempts to improve this have been dogged by "delays in the salary disbursements, 'stock-outs' of medicines, unavailable and dysfunctional equipment, and an unhelpful referral system."

While talking to Deewa Radio, Dr. Abdul Wahab Khan, a child health expert in Pakistan said lack of knowledge about expecting mothers’ health and proper care is the biggest reason for such high infant mortality rate in Pakistan.

"Government has set up hospitals, appointed doctors and midwifes but there is no monitoring in the rural health units where expecting mothers and newborns do not get the care they need," stated Khan.

According to the report, 86 babies died below the age of five per every 1000 live births in Pakistan during the year 2012.  The figure comes from 409,000 babies dying below the age of five out of 4,604,000 newborns in 2012.

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