The United Nations Fund for Children ranks 10 countries including Nigeria worst nations in the world for newborn babies who die of preventable causes in 2018
By Anayo Ezugwu
NIGERIA, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malawi, and six other countries are ranked the worst nations for newborn babies in 2018. The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania, accounts for more than half of the world’s newborn deaths.
UNICEF, in its latest report titled ‘Save Newborn Lives’ stated that around the world, an estimated 7,000 newborn babies die every day. The report showed that more than 80 percent of those deaths are the result of causes that could have been prevented with basic solutions such as affordable, quality health care delivered by well-trained doctors, nurses and midwives, antenatal and postnatal nutrition for mother and baby, and clean water.
While newborn mortality rates have fallen in recent decades, they still lag behind the impressive gains made for children one month to five years old. The report noted that between 1990 and 2016, the mortality rate in this age group dropped by 62 percent – almost two thirds. In contrast, the newborn mortality rate declined by only 49 percent. As a result, newborn deaths now account for a greater, and growing, share of all deaths among children younger than five.
“Every year, 2.6 million babies die before turning one month old. One million of them take their first and last breaths on the day they are born. Another 2.6 million are stillborn. Each of these deaths is a tragedy, especially because the vast majority are preventable. More than 80 percent of newborn deaths are the result of premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.
“Similar causes, particularly complications during labour, account for a large share of stillbirths. Millions of young lives could be saved every year if mothers and babies had access to affordable, quality health care, good nutrition and clean water. But far too often, even these basics are out of reach of the mothers and babies who need them most. Deaths among children aged one month to five years old have fallen dramatically in recent decades.
“But progress in reducing the deaths of newborn babies – those aged less than one month – has been less impressive, with 7,000 newborns still dying every day. This is partly because newborn deaths are difficult to address with a single drug or intervention – they require a system-wide approach. It is also due to a lack of momentum and global commitment to newborn survival. We are failing the youngest, most vulnerable people on the planet – and with so many millions of lives at stake, time is of the essence,” it stated.
The report also showed that the risk of dying as a newborn varies enormously depending on where a baby is born. Babies born in Japan stand the best chance of surviving, with just one in 1,000 dying during the first 28 days. Children born in Pakistan face the worst odds: Of every 1,000 babies born, 46 die before the end of their first month – almost one in 20.
UNICEF stated that newborn survival is closely linked to a country’s income level. It noted that high-income countries have an average newborn mortality rate (the number of deaths per thousand live births) of just 3. In comparison, low-income countries have a newborn mortality rate of 27.
“This gap is significant: If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average, or below, by 2030, 16 million newborn lives could be saved. A country’s income level explains only part of the story, however. In Kuwait and the United States of America, both high-income countries, the newborn mortality rate is 4. This is only slightly better than lower-middle-income countries such as Sri Lanka and Ukraine, where the newborn mortality rate is 5.
“Rwanda, a low-income country, has more than halved its newborn mortality rate in recent decades, reducing it from 41 in 1990 to 17 in 2016, which puts the country well ahead of upper-middle-income countries like the Dominican Republic, where the newborn mortality rate is 21.
“This illustrates that the existence of political will to invest in strong health systems that prioritise newborns and reach the poorest and most marginalised is critical and can make a major difference, even where resources are constrained.
“Moreover, national mortality rates often mask variations within countries: Babies born to mothers with no education face almost twice the risk of dying during the newborn period as babies born to mothers with at least a secondary education. Babies born to the poorest families are more than 40 per cent more likely to die during the newborn period than those born to the least poor.”
– Feb. 24, 2018 @ 4:05 GMT |