A baby born in the developing world must fight to survive right from the start, with up to 2 million deaths occurring in the first 24 hours of life every year, according to a global report on mother and infant mortality.
Many of those deaths could easily be prevented with cheap interventions, such as knit caps to keep newborns warm or clean blades to cut umbilical cords, according to the analysis released yesterday by the US-based group, Save the Children.
Expectant mothers also do not fare well in poor countries, with half a million women dying annually from complications during pregnancy or birth, often because they have no care before, during or after their babies are born, the report said. A huge number of women give birth at home alone or with no skilled attendant.
"In most of the developing world, childbirth is a dance with death for both mother and baby, even though 70 percent of those deaths could be prevented," said co-author Anne Tinker, director of the organization's Saving Newborn Lives Initiative. "The secret is really knowledge."
The 50-page report released ahead of Mother's Day compiles data from the world's nations as well as the WHO and UNICEF. It presents a bleak look at the challenges pregnant women and newborns face in impoverished countries, where up to 99 percent of deaths occur -- illustrating the wide gap between rich and poor nations.
For instance, one in every five women in sub-Saharan Africa has lost a newborn, along with one in every seven women in South Asia. Some 4 million babies die in their first month of life each year -- the total number born annually in the US.
Out of the 78 low and middle-income countries examined, Liberia had the highest newborn mortality rate with 65 out of 1,000 babies dying in a country where forced teen marriages are common and one out of 16 women dies during pregnancy or childbirth.
Liberia was closely followed by Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Pakistan and Ivory Coast -- countries known for conflict and widespread violence against women.
In the Afghan village of Rabat north of Kabul, a woman said that her seventh child, a daughter, died just 14 days after birth two months ago.
"I am not sure why she died, but she was not able to breast-feed and I was not receiving prenatal medical care," said Nagis, who uses just one name.
Like all of her children, the baby was delivered at home because there was no female doctor or midwife to aid her at the clinic.
"It is generally considered as taboo in the community for men to treat women, especially during pregnancy," she said.
Dr Noorullah Moussazai, who runs a local health clinic that recently set up a mother and child health program using trained midwives, said, "Consultations by male doctors remain a problem for obstetrical and gynecological procedures."
In contrast, Vietnam and Colombia tied for the lowest newborn mortality rate with 12 out of 1,000 deaths. They were followed by Mexico, Brazil, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Nicaragua.
Vietnam and Colombia both boasted high percentages of prenatal care, births involving a skilled attendant and higher levels of education.
In the industrialized world, Japan had the lowest newborn mortality rate of 1.8 per 1,000, followed by the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Norway.
The US, on the other hand, had one of the highest newborn death rates -- five in 1,000 -- in the developed world. It tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia. Only Latvia came in lower out of 33 countries examined.
The report highlights the need for better education and nutrition among expectant mothers, and the importance of breast-feeding.
It also offers cost-effective options, including tetanus shots, which cost about US$0.40, to protect moms and babies against infection, especially from dirty instruments that may be used during birth.
The study found that most newborn deaths result from some type of infection, such as pneumonia or diarrhea, or complications related to premature births.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around