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Strategy launched to prevent 2.9 million newborn deaths annually

Monday, 30 June 2014

To meet 2035 newborn survival goals, more than 90 countries must accelerate progress, and 29 of those countries must more than double current rates of progress.

Every NewbornInvestments in quality care at birth could save the lives of 3 million babies and women each year who die needlessly around the world, according to a new global action plan launched in Johannesburg and co-authored by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The Every Newborn action plan brings together the latest evidence on effective interventions for a clear roadmap to end preventable stillbirths and newborn deaths, and takes into account research findings from The Lancet Every Newborn Series which was co-led by the School.

The new action plan gives two specific targets for all countries to achieve by 2035:

Co-author of the Every Newborn action plan, Professor Joy Lawn from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The 5.5 million newborn deaths and stillbirths occurring every year make up the single largest group of deaths in the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals for women’s and children’s health. Yet they are also our greatest opportunity for major impact in a short time frame. The Every Newborn action plan clearly lays out what needs to be done differently, and which efforts and investments have the greatest impact, with a triple return on saving women and newborns and also preventing stillbirths.”

The action plan highlights that each year globally, 2.9 million newborns (first four weeks) die and there are an additional 2.6 million stillbirths (last three months of pregnancy). Newborn deaths now account for 44 percent of all under-5 deaths worldwide. The day of birth is the time of greatest risk of death and disability for babies and their mothers— contributing to around half of the world’s 289,000 maternal deaths.

Critical attention is especially needed for the 29 slowest progressing countries—most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, it may be more than 110 years before an African baby has the same chances of survival as a baby born in North America or Europe.

Chart: 29 countries need to at least double progress for newborn survival to meet 2035 targets

Countries and territories Acceleration factor needed to reach 2035 target
Somalia 10.1
Dem Rep of Congo 8.9
Angola 7
Central African Republic 6.6
Sierra Leone 6.6
Chad 5.8
Congo 4.9
Côte d'Ivoire 4.8
Pakistan 4.7
Togo 4.2
Comoros 3.9
Mauritania 3.8
Swaziland 3.8
Afghanistan 3.7
Djibouti 3.3
Burundi 3.2
Nigeria 3.2
Papua New Guinea 3.2
Equatorial Guinea 3.1
Kenya 2.6
Mali 2.6
Ghana 2.4
Haiti 2.4
Sudan 2.4
Gabon 2.3
Guinea 2.2
South Sudan 2.2

According to the Every Newborn action plan, most newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions, including prematurity, complications around birth and severe infections. Over 71 percent of newborn deaths could be avoided without intensive care, mainly though quality care around birth and care of small and sick newborns. An additional investment of only $1.15 per person per year in 75 high burden countries would prevent 3 million deaths of women and babies.


Every Newborn – An Action Plan To End Preventable Deaths

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Image: Newborn children. Credit: Save The Children

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