Nearly 30 million babies each year — almost a quarter of the total — are born too soon, too small or become sick, requiring specialized care to survive beyond the first month of life, according to a new report by a global coalition that includes the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).
“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,” he continued, “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.”
The report, “Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn,” finds that babies with complications from being born premature, or suffering brain injury during childbirth, severe bacterial infection or jaundice, risk death and disability.
Furthermore, the financial and psychological toll on their families can effect 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, lauding universal health coverage to ensure that everyone, including newborns, has access to the health services they need, regardless of the ability to pay.