By Rafiu Ajakaye
Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, UNICEF warned on Tuesday and said 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 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.
The report noted that UNICEF is launching a global campaign – Every Child ALIVE – to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns.