When my first baby was born and handed to me all cleaned, and swaddled I looked up to my Doctor to ask “can I kiss her?” He laughed and said, “yes, she’s yours, you get to take her home”. Suddenly I was responsible for a life! Just like that!
Each time as a mother giving birth I was on edge waiting to know that everything is going to be o.k. Even for baby number four, probably more so for baby number four, since I was of “advanced maternal age”, I was worried. That was here. In the USA, with modern medicine and an ambulance at the end of a 911 call. You might be surprised to learn that despite all that we still fall behind 68 other countries in newborn deaths the first day of life. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? In developing countries however the numbers are far worse. Too many mothers are not getting the pre-natal care they need, and often birthing alone in unsanitary conditions.
The first 24 hours of a babies life are the most critical, and while advances in preventing child mortality have cut that number in half according to a new report out today from Save The Children, Newborn health still continues to lag behind in progress. The report states that nearly half of all deaths of children under five are newborns. The greatest tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable.
In many rural communities there is a shortage of healthcare workers to aid in safe delivery. With community based healthcare workers in place, with the knowledge to resuscitate a newborn who is not breathing, and teach new mothers techniques such as breastfeeding and kangaroo care, newborn lives could be saved.
Save The Children is calling on both world leaders and private sector partners to join in what is being called the Five Point Newborn Promise in 2014 to save newborn lives. This plan calls to:
- Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labor
- Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
- Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person
- To pay for the training, equipping and support of health workers, and remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care
- The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions and increasing availability for the poorest to new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health.
The new report, “Ending Newborn Deaths,” shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.