3 million newborn babies' lives could be saved for less than $1 per child

3 million newborn babies' lives could be saved for less than $1 per child, with interventions such as tetanus immunization during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding, clean delivery and antibiotics to treat illness. New research papers on the survival of newborn babies analyzed the status of newborn health around the world and calls for immediate and sustained action to save newborn lives.

Eight million children are either stillborn or die each year within the first month of life and it never makes news, Richard Horton, Lancet editor-in-chief, means to "erase the excuse of ignorance for public and political inaction once and for all." with a series of articles.

A panel of leading international public health experts announced the research findings today at the National Press Club. Four articles and a number of related papers are available in the magazine.

A $1.00 per head each year would provide these life saving interventions to 90 percent of mothers and babies, the excessive number of deaths are unacceptable when extremely cost-effective interventions are available, current funding levels are are much too low and both international donors and leaders in developing countries must be held accountable, said Dr. Gary Darmstadt, director of the Center for International Neonatal Health at The Johns Hopkins University.

40 percent of all child deaths worldwide occur in the first month of life; 99 percent of newborn deaths. in poor countries, most funding and research worldwide focuses on high-technology solutions for the 1 percent of deaths in rich countries. The burden of maternal, newborn and child mortality falls disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries and on the poorest populations.

Simple techniques to teach householders danger signals and simple preventative measures they can manage at home could be delivered by Community health workers and other individuals could be trained to provide a second level of care, with clear guidelines, to help improve the care of newborns and avoid these deaths, said Dr. Carissa Etienne, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization.

Seven babies die every minute, or 10,000 a day, the equivalent of an Asian tsunami every two weeks, but the responses are very different. Simple bacterial infections that kill these babies could be prevented with an antibiotic costing 25 cents said Dr. Vinod Paul of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The Millennium Development Goal for child survival is an unprecedented opportunity to reduce newborn mortality and we must take collective responsibility for this global health crisis and work together in close coordination to achieve it said Dr. Jacques Baudouy, director, Health, Nutrition and Population, Human Development Network, The World Bank.

Anne Tinker, director, Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children/USA.said it was time governments and care agencies took responsibility to reduce the needless deaths of women and children; Political commitment, increased resources,human and financial, community involvement, and coordinated country-level support is needed to turn knowledge into action.

The series contributers, International health and development agencies including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Saving Newborn Lives - Save the Children/USA, involved the work of leading academics and health economists from the UK, USA, Asia and Africa. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID provided funding.

PAHO Member States today include all 35 countries in the Americas. France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Participating States. Portugal and Spain are Observer States, and Puerto Rico is an Associate Member.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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