During my flood relief trip in Pakistan a couple of years ago I witnessed severe malnutrition among babies and toddlers. Break your heart malnutrition and hunger. Shout for joy Plumpy’nut solution in some cases. Moms and babies have my heart – probably because I am one and I had five. Getting a good start in life changes a generation and with catastrophes like floods and earthquakes, the chances of having that good start decrease.
For the past 14 years Save the Children has published an annual report on the state of the world’s mothers. The report is long and detailed, providing key findings as well as giving recommendations. The data includes information from 176 countries on the health of children, health of mothers, and economic well-being. Finland came in first and Congo came in last.
This year’s report was released yesterday. Here are just a few of the findings:
The birth day is the most dangerous day for babies world-wide.
More than a million babies die on the first day of life, usually from preventable causes. While great progress has been made around maternal/child mortality, newborns continue to be the most vulnerable of all with little progress made around their health and survival.
Three primary causes of death were identified.
These include complications during birth, prematurity and infections. For all three of these there are interventions that work, that are effective, that can change these statistics. The number of newborn deaths could be reduced by 75% if these preventive measures were put into place. That’s a staggering success rate!
The interventions cost pennies to put into place – from 13 cents a day to $6 a day.*
- steroid injections for women in preterm labor (to reduce deaths due to premature babies’ breathing problems);
- resuscitation devices (to save babies who do not breathe at birth);
- chlorhexidine cord cleansing (to prevent umbilical cord infections); and
- injectable antibiotics (to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia).
This is a big deal. Give a baby a healthy start and you change a generation, one baby at a time. Where it stands now is a public health crisis.
So what do we do? How can we help? If you’re pregnant you help by taking care of yourself, of your baby; by eating right and getting prenatal care. Others of us can pass this information on – if we live in countries that fall at the bottom of the list find out what we can do in both big and small ways. If we live in the United Kingdom or the United States – take a look! The United States falls 30th despite spending approximately 18% of its GDP on health care. This is just sad.
- 1 of 2,400 women in the United States will die from a maternal cause. This statistic is the same as Iran.
- In the United States 60% of newborn deaths occur on that critical first day of life.
- The United Kingdom fares better but not great at number 22 on the list.
Take a look at the report linked below and the Save the Children website. Learning about this is the first step in making a difference! I’ve also included a link to a Huffington Post article that has a great infographic you can share. Huffington Post infographic.
What do you think of the statistics and the low cost interventions? Have you had maternal child health experience where you have seen these interventions work? Would love to hear from you in the comments!
- Three Million Newborns Die Within First Month (voanews.com)
- UK lags behind in mother index (bbc.co.uk)
- Report: 4 inexpensive products can save 1M newborns (usatoday.com)