News / Africa

    Millions of Newborn Deaths Reported

    Every Newborn Action Plan, an international initiative, is scheduled to be launched in June 2014. It's estimated there are 5.5-million newborn and still birth deaths each year. Credit: PMNCH
    Every Newborn Action Plan, an international initiative, is scheduled to be launched in June 2014. It's estimated there are 5.5-million newborn and still birth deaths each year. Credit: PMNCH

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Listen to De Capua report on preventing newborn deaths

    Joe DeCapua
    Despite five-and-a-half million newborn and stillborn baby deaths each year, investment in newborn health remains very low. That’s one of the findings in a series of papers published in the medical journal The Lancet. The research also shows the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented.
     
    Listen to De Capua report on preventing newborn deaths
    Listen to De Capua report on preventing newborn deathsi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Lead researcher Joy Lawn said the research is the most accurate estimate yet on the number of deaths of newborns and stillbirths.
     
    “Every year there are two-point-nine-million babies who die in the first month of life -- and most shockingly a million who die on their birthday, the first day. And there are two-point-six-million stillbirths -- most shockingly, one-point-two-million who die while the woman is in labor. So together this is five-and-a-half-million babies,” she said.
     
    Most of the deaths are in low and middle income countries. But rich nations, she said, are not immune. There are about 500,000 pre-term births in the United States every year.
     
    “The three leading causes around the world are pre-term births, birth complications -- so where women don’t get the right care during labor. And babies that are full-term can have damage and even die because of lack of care during labor – and then, thirdly, infections,” she said.
     
    Lawn is a professor and Director of the March Center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an advisor to Save the Children UK. She said many babies and their mothers could be saved for just a few dollars worth of medical care.
     
    “In this series we show very clearly that 71-percent of newborn deaths can be prevented with solutions that we have already. And that together, three-million women, babies – counting newborns and stillbirths – could be saved every year with investments at the time of birth. So that’s a triple return on investment with care at the time of birth,” she said.
     
    That care includes simple things like keeping the baby warm; helping it learn to breastfeed and making sure it has skin to skin contact with its mother.  
     
    Also, Lawn said there are injections that can greatly improve the odds of a baby’s survival. One injection prevents tetanus infections, a nearly always fatal condition for babies.
     
    Another contains corticosteroids and is given to women in pre-term labor. Corticosteroids affect stress and immune response and inflammation. They help premature babies improve their breathing. This is standard treatment in rich nations, but not in developing countries. It costs less than one dollar.
     
    Lawn said that it’s been known for many years that a large number of newborns die. Yet, funding to prevent the problem remains low.
     
    “Of the billions of dollars that are given for child survival, only four-percent of that donor funding even mentions the word newborn. And yet 44-percent of under-five deaths are among newborns. So there’s a major mismatch in what the funding is going to compared to where the deaths are now,” she said.
     
    Much of the funding goes towards preventing deaths of mothers and children up to age five.
     
    In recent years, it’s become more common in the U.S. to issue birth certificates for stillborn babies. Lawn said it means a lot to parents to know that their child has been recognized. However, what the papers in The Lancet also show is that in many developing countries no record is kept.
     
    Lawn said, “A women who loses a newborn death or a stillbirth in many of the places I’ve worked in Africa – there will be no piece of paper. The baby may not be named. It’s very unlikely there will be any funeral or public recognition. And those things aren’t just sad for the woman, but they hide the whole problem. The fact that in this day and age you can have five-and-a-half million babies entering and leaving the planet without official record – but also mostly without funerals or recognition – actually stops us [from] acting.”
     
    More than 50 experts from 28 institutions in 17 countries took part in The Lancet series.
     
    In June, a new international initiative is set to be launched called Every Newborn Action Plan. It’s described as “an evidence-based roadmap toward care for every women and a healthy start for every newborn baby.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora