"More than a million babies around the world die on the day of their birth yearly," is the sobering news in The Guardian after a report by the charity Save the Children argued that further action is required to combat child mortality.
The report shows that 2.9 million babies died within 28 days of being born in 2012, with 1 million of these babies dying within 24 hours. The causes of these deaths include premature birth, complications during birth such as abnormal presentation (for example, when a baby presents feet or buttocks first rather than head first), and infections such as meningitis. In addition, in the same year there were 1.2 million stillbirths during labour.
The report focuses on the combined total of the 2.2 million newborn deaths on the first day of life and stillbirths during labour. Arguably, most of these 2.2 million deaths were preventable.
The report found that there is huge regional variation in newborn deaths. Generally, the poorest countries have the highest mortality rates for newborns. There are dramatic inequalities in death rates for newborn babies within poor countries, with the poorest communities and other marginalised groups generally experiencing considerably higher rates of newborn mortality.
The report has identified essential services that should be provided to prevent newborn deaths, and calls upon world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector to implement a Newborn Promise to end all preventable newborn deaths.
The report was produced by the charity Save the Children, which works for the rights of children in more than 120 countries.
The main causes of death for newborn babies are problems arising from premature birth, complications during labour and delivery, and infections acquired by the baby during or after birth.
The key way to stop newborn deaths is to ensure that essential care is provided during labour, delivery and immediately after, when the risks are greatest.
Save the Children's report has identified eight essential services that midwives and other skilled health workers should provide during labour, birth and immediately after to reduce newborn mortality and prevent stillbirth during labour. These include:
Save the Children is calling on world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector to commit to a Newborn Promise to end all preventable newborn deaths. They want:
The charity also wants the private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, to help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions, as well as increasing the availability of new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health for the poorest.