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World is failing newborn babies, says UNICEF

Press Release – UNICEF NZ

SUVA, 20 February 2018 Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the worlds poorest countries, UNICEF said today in a new report on newborn mortality. Babies born in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have a …World is failing newborn babies, says UNICEF
Babies from the best places to be born up to 50 times less likely to die in the first month of life

SUVA, 20 February 2018 – Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, UNICEF said today in a new report on newborn mortality. Babies born in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have a high chance at survival, while newborn deaths in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Federated States of Micronesia remain alarmingly high.

“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.”

Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report says. In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.

In Kiribati, one in every 44 babies born does not survive; in the Federated States of Micronesia one in 58 and in Vanuatu, one in 85 babies do not survive.

“Throughout the Pacific the newborn mortality rates remain a serious concern,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative. “UNICEF is working with governments around the region to improve the quality of care for newborn babies and to ensure that all babies, no matter where they are born, receive the vital care they need in those first few days to survive.”

If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved.

Unequal shots at life[1]

Pacific newborn mortality
Papua New Guinea: 1 in 43
Kiribati: 1 in 44
Federated States of Micronesia 1 in 58
Vanuatu: 1 in 85
Solomon Islands: 1 in 96
Samoa: 1 in 109
Fiji: 1 in 114
Tonga: 1 in 147
Lowest maternal mortality
1. Japan: 1 in 1,111
2. Iceland: 1 in 1,000
3. Singapore: 1 in 909

Pacific region
New Zealand: 1 in 333
Australia: 1 in 455

More than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, the report says. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition. However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive.

This month, UNICEF is launching Every Child ALIVE, a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:

• Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care;
• Guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;
• Making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and
• Empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.

“Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life. One million of them die the day they are born,” said Ms. Fore. “We know we can save the vast majority of these babies with affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and every newborn. Just a few small steps from all of us can help ensure the first small steps of each of these young lives.”

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Download photos, broll and the full report here

Pacific photos available here:
Kiribati
Fiji
For rankings of all countries, click here
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