Of all the world’s injustices, this may be the most fundamental.
UNICEF’s new report on newborn mortality has lifted the curtain on some fatal figures. Every year, 2.6 million babies die before they turn one month old. One million of them don’t live past one day – and, most tragically, 2.6 additional newborns are stillborn.
To respond to these preventable deaths, UNICEF has launched a new petition “Every Child Alive,” which appeals world health leaders to make infant deaths a priority during the upcoming World Health Assembly.
The petition states: “I call on health ministers and leaders gathered at the World Health Assembly on 21–26 May to stop the tragedy of 7,000 newborns dying every day.”
Every Child Alive: The urgent need to end newborn deaths
UNICEF’s report shows that while there was a high correlation between infant mortality and a country’s income level, though the rough comparison masks the real story. High-income countries Kuwait and the U.S. had a newborn mortality rate (number of deaths per thousand live births) of four, only one less than the rate of five shared by low-income countries like Sri Lanka and Ukraine.
“Babies are not dying from medical causes… They are dying because their families are too poor or marginalized to access the care they need. Of all the world’s injustices, this may be the most fundamental,” states the report.
Although these are startling statistics, there’s reason to be hopeful. Countries like Rwanda have been able to decrease infant mortality by achieving two crucial goals: increasing access to affordable healthcare for women and babies and improving their quality of care.
The Four P’s
The report identified four factors that need to come together to give every newborn a fair chance to survive: Places, People, Products, and Power.
- Places: Health centers that are open and available to the public 24/7 are crucial to community health. These health centers must have access to clean water, proper sanitation, and electricity to carry out their duties effectively.
- People: Health workers are critical to addressing newborn deaths. The report states that finding and training healthcare workers in lifesaving medical skills must be a priority for countries.
- Products: It’s not enough to have skilled healthcare providers if those workers don’t have the necessary equipment and medicine to save lives. UNICEF has identified antibiotics, blankets, and antiseptics as some of the most critical products for newborn survival.
- Power: By empowering women, communities can make the healthcare of mothers and children a top priority.
Although the international community has already made significant strides in overcoming infant mortality, there is still much work to be done to save lives. We can end preventable newborn and child deaths in our lifetime, but we must encourage governments, health care workers, and entire communities to make it happen.
Take Action Challenge
- Sign and share the petition! You can use this tweet to get started: Help save lives by calling on 🌎 leaders to invest more in quality, affordable health care for newborns. Sign UNICEF’s petition here: http://uni.cf/EveryChildALIVE
- Use the #EveryChildALIVE hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to join the movement.