WHO: Nearly 30 million premature newborns in dire need of treatment


NEARLY 30 MILLION PREMATURE NEWBORNS IN DIRE NEED OF TREATMENT

New Delhi: According to a new report by a global coalition that includes UNICEF and WHO, nearly 30 million babies are born too soon, too small or become sick every year and need specialized care to survive.

“When it comes to babies and their mothers, the right care at the right time in the right place can make all the difference,” said Omar Abdi, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director.

“Yet millions of small and sick babies and women are dying every year because they simply do not receive the quality care that is their right and our collective responsibility,” he added.

The report, Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn, finds that among the newborn babies most at risk of death and disability are those with complications from prematurity, brain injury during childbirth, severe bacterial infection or jaundice, and those with congenital conditions. Additionally, the financial and psychological toll on their families can have detrimental effects on their cognitive, linguistic, and emotional development.

“For every mother and baby, a healthy start from pregnancy through childbirth and the first months after birth is essential,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO.

“Universal health coverage can ensure that everyone – including newborns – has access to the health services they need, without facing financial hardship. Progress on newborn health care is a win-win situation – it saves lives and is critical for early child development thus impacting on families, society, and future generations,” he added.

Without specialized treatment, many at-risk newborns won’t survive their first month of life, according to the report. In 2017, some 2.5 million newborns died, mostly from preventable causes. Almost two-thirds of babies who died were born prematurely. And even if they survive, these babies face chronic diseases or developmental delays. In addition, an estimated 1 million small and sick newborns survive with a long-term disability.

The key findings of the report launched at the Partners’ Forum of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) in New Delhi on 13 December, hosted by the Government of India, where 130 countries discussed on the better policies for newborns.

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