Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, UNICEF said 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.
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.
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.