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Save the Children International,Save the Children US
Globally, 3 million newborns die each year, mostly due to easily preventable or treatable causes, and more than a third (1 million per year) die on their first day of birth, making it the riskiest time for newborns and mothers almost everywhere. The majority of these deaths occur in developing countries where mothers lack access to basic health services and also face great risk of death in pregnancy and childbirth.
Save the Children’s 14th Annual ‘State of the World’s Mothers Report 2013’ presents a first-ever Birth Day Risk Index. It examines data from 186 countries to show where babies are at the greatest risk of death on the day they are born. The report highlights four low-cost solutions that have great potential to save lives and also presents the annual Mothers’ Index. Using the latest data on health, education, economic resources and women’s political participation, the Mothers’ Index ranks 176 countries – both in the industrialised and developing world – to show where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.
The report shows that Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, and Sierra Leone have some of the highest newborn death rates in the world. The DRC is ranked the worst place to be a mother, and Finland takes the top spot (top countries after Finland were Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands). A woman in Finland has less than a 1 in 12,000 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, while in DR Congo, 1 woman in 30 is likely to die of maternal causes. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time taking up the bottom ten places in the annual index – the poor health of mothers, where between 10–20% are underweight, contributes to high rates of death for babies, as does the relatively high number of young mothers. Other factors are low contraceptive use, poor access to decent healthcare when pregnant and a severe shortage of health-workers.
The report concludes that every child deserves a healthy start in life. Investments in newborn survival are not only the right thing to do, they will also pay for themselves, by helping to lay the foundation for a healthier and more prosperous world.