Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

This is the kind of stuff that makes me really mad.

A new study by the World Health Organization and its partner NGOs has found that 3.3 million newborn babies died in 2009 of easily preventable causes. The "good news" is that a decade earlier the figure was 4.6 million.

“The first week of life is the riskiest week for newborns, and yet many countries are only just beginning post-natal care programmes to reach mothers and babies at this critical time,” said a WHO statement. It did not say why that was so.

The 20-year study covering all 193 WHO member States  found that deaths of babies in the first four weeks of life (neonatal period) accounted for 41 per cent of all child deaths before the age of five; 99 percent of them occur in poor countries.

India leads the list of five populous countries where more than half the deaths take place; its share of the total is 28 per cent. The other countries, in declining order of number of deaths, are Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The reduction of neonatal deaths over the last decade has been particularly slow in Africa, where the decline has been just one percent per year. Of the 15 countries with the worst records (more than 39 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births), 12 were African: Angola, Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone. The three others were Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia.

Pre-term delivery, asphyxia and severe infections, such as sepsis and pneumonia cause three-quarters of the infant deaths.

We need mass rallies and candle-lit vigils about this.

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