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PAKISTAN TOPS IN UNDER-FIVE MORTALITY RATE

  • ASIM MAHMOOD
  • July, 2018
  • 448
  • National

At current trends, 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns

Pakistan has the world's highest newborn mortality rate, with one in every 22 babies born dying within a month. The report tells the difference between the rich and rest countries in this perspective. According to the report, babies born in the world's poorest countries, most of them in Africa, still face "alarming" risks of death that can be 50 times as high as those in the richest countries. Japan, for instance, is highlighted as the best place for a baby to be born, with only one in 1,111 babies at risk of dying within a month of birth.

Henrietta Fore, Unicef's executive director says, "While the last quarter-century has seen broad improvements in older children's health. We have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old. Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly we are failing the world's poorest babies."

For example, the countries with the lowest newborn mortality rates, after Japan, are mostly well-off countries with strong education and health care systems: Iceland (a one in 1,000 chance of death), Singapore (one in 909), Finland (one in 833), Estonia and Slovenia (both one in 769), Cyprus (one in 714) and Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway and South Korea (all with risks of one in 667).

The United States was only the 41st safest country for newborns despite the fact USA is considered superpower and generally affluent, but with considerable income inequality and wide variations in access to health care are common. Of the 10 highest-risk countries, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa, countries where "pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance," due to poverty, conflict or weak institutions, according to the report.

The joint report informed that every day in 2016, 15,000 children died before their fifth birthday, 46 per cent of them - or 7,000 babies - died in the first 28 days of life.  Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017, reveals that although the number of children dying before the age of five is at a new low- 5.6 million in 2016, compared with nearly 9.9 million in 2000 - the proportion of under-five deaths in the newborn period has increased from 41 per cent to 46 per cent during the same period.

"The lives of 50 million children under-five have been saved since 2000, a testament to the serious commitment by governments and development partners to tackle preventable child deaths," said UNICEF Chief of Health, Stefan Swartling Peterson. "But unless we do more to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete. We have the knowledge and technologies that are required - we just need to take them where they are most needed."

At current trends, 60 million children will die before their fifth birthday between 2017 and 2030, half of them newborns, according to the report released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Population Division of UNDESA which make up the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME)

Most newborn deaths occurred in two regions: Southern Asia (39 per cent) and sub-Saharan Africa (38 per cent). Five countries accounted for half of all new-born deaths: India (24 per cent), Pakistan (10 per cent), Nigeria (9 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4 per cent) and Ethiopia (3 per cent). "To achieve universal health coverage and ensure more newborns survive and thrive, we must serve marginalized families," says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women's and Children's Health at WHO. "To prevent illness, families require financial power, their voices to be heard and access to quality care. Improving quality of services and timely care during and after childbirth must be prioritized."

The report notes that many lives can be saved if global inequities are reduced. If all countries achieved the average mortality of high-income countries, 87 per cent of under-five deaths could have been averted and almost 5 million lives could have been saved in 2016. "It is unconscionable that in 2017, pregnancy and child birth are still life-threatening conditions for women, and that 7,000 newborns die daily," said Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. "The best measure of success for Universal Health Coverage is that every mother should not only be able to access health care easily, but that it should be quality, affordable care that will ensure  a healthy and productive life for her children and family. We are committed to scaling up our financing to support country demand ...

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