Sub-Saharan Africa, World’s Most Dangerous Place for Newborns, says UNICEF
By Razaq Bamidele
UNICEF on Tuesday, lamented that global deaths of newborn babies remain intolerably high, regretting that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the highest number of children who die before they are one month old.
“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,” the agency said in a new report on infant mortality worldwide.
“The report notes that 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. With the newborn mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, the global estimates rank Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths,” the report added.
It quoted UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore as saying that the development meant that not much progress has been made in ending deaths among children below one month, even though deaths of under-fives have been halved in the last quarter century.
The report further blamed more than 80 percent of the deaths on prematurity asphyxia, complications during births or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.
It said the deaths are preventable with access to trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care, and good nutrition.
“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.
This, the report said can be done through, “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.’