Every year, 2.6 million babies die worldwide in the first month of their life. One million die on the very day that they are born. These figures were confirmed by the new Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta H. Fore.
In the new report on neonatal mortality produced by the international organisation she heads, the number of newborns dying at global level remains alarming, especially in poor countries. Babies born in the safest countries have up to 50 times less risk of dying during their first month.
Luxembourg is one of these countries, with a very low risk of death among newborn babies. Just one child in 667 dies in his or her first month in Luxembourg, according to the UNICEF report. With one of the lowest neonatal mortality rates, Luxembourg is in eighth place in the list of countries analysed. Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chances of survival.
Highest mortality risk in Pakistan
Even though deaths among children aged between 1 month and 5 years old have fallen considerably in the past few decades, some 7,000 newborns (babies under one month old) still die every day. Babies born in Japan are most likely to survive: only one in 1,000 will die within the first 28 days.
But infants born in Pakistan face the greatest risks: for every 1,000 babies born, 46 will not make it past their first month – in other words, almost 1 in 20. Eight of the 10 countries with the highest risk for newborns are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Main causes of mortality
More than 80% of newborn deaths are the result of premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia, according to the report. Thousands of babies do not have access to the life-saving assistance they need to survive because of a lack of qualified staff (nurses, midwives and doctors).
(Source: UNICEF 2018 report – Every child alive)