One million the same day they came to light.
That means 7,000 every day: almost five every minute.
These are the numbers of the report “Every child is life“, by UNICEF.
Despite the successes achieved in reducing overall infant mortality (0-5 years), the neonatal mortality rate (0-1 years) remains too high, especially in the poorest countries of the world: in low-income countries, the average neonatal mortality is 27 deaths per 1,000 births; in high-income ones, the rate falls to 3 out of 1,000.
At the bottom of the ranking (with the lowest number of deaths per thousand inhabitants), Japan, Iceland and Singapore, on the other hand Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan are at the top. Of the 10 most dangerous places for newborns, eight are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Over the past 25 years – says Henrietta H. Fore, director general of UNICEF – we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under five years, we have not made similar progress in ending the deaths of children with less than a month of life. Given that most of these deaths are preventable, we have not yet achieved the results necessary for the poorest children in the world “.
The most impressive thing, however, is another: many of these deaths could be avoided thanks to the help of qualified obstetric staff, along with simple solutions such as the use of drinking water, disinfectants, breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact from the first hours of life. One of the main causes of neonatal mortality in developing countries appears to be the lack of qualified health workers. Numbers demonstrate it: while in Norway there are 218 doctors, nurses and midwives for every 10,000 inhabitants, in Somalia this value drops to just 1 every 10,000.
Italy, for once, is placed in the high end of the classification with a low mortality, equal to 2 – or 1 death in neonatal age every 500 children born alive: it is in 169th place (out of 184 states) in the global ranking of neonatal mortality rate. Better than just Japan, Iceland, Singapore, Finland, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Spain.
The situation in France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and especially the United States of America is decidedly worse, where the infant mortality rate is much higher than that of countries like Latvia, Slovakia and Lithuania.
Countries like India, where there are also noticeable improvements compared to the past, alarming numbers still show: here about 600 thousand newborns die every year before reaching 28 days of life, a quarter of all neonatal deaths on the planet.
A reflection remains. Despite the promises and billions of dollars spent, there is still a huge diversity in the world: being born in some countries carries a risk of death within the first month of life fifty times greater than in other countries. A difference that costs the lives of five newborns every minute.
Also published on Medium.