By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
Preventable child mortality is still Liberia’s major challenge in meeting its Millennium Development Goal four and five as Save the Children’s new report entitled, “Ending newborn deaths” reveals how 3, 300 babies died in Liberia during their first day in 2012.
Launching its report yesterday at the head offices of Save the Children, the Country Director Ranjan Poudyal said this is the first time that a global report has revealed the true scale of the newborn crisis which includes 1, 400 newborns and 1, 900 intra-partum stillbirths and that is why there is need for a greater political will to give babies a fighting chance of reaching their second day of life.
Mr. Poudyal called on world leaders to commit themselves to the five-point newborn promise this year which includes among other things issuing an accountable blueprint declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, and ensuring that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who are equitably distributed and can deliver essential newborn health interventions.
He said this commitment for change is aimed at saving millions of newborn lives and is focused on training and equipping health workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help and removing fees for all pregnancies and birth services across the country thereby stopping the 2.1 million stillbirths during labor.
He told scores of journalists in a press conference where Save the Children had organized to show appreciation to some mothers who practiced the Kangaroo Mother Care in saving the lives of their premature babies that the first day of a child’s life is the most dangerous.
The report highlights inequities in access to essential services which leaves mothers and babies most vulnerable in terms of acquiring life saving care with newborn deaths put at over a third of all deaths of children before age five.
The report also compares the mortality rate of children under five to neonatal mortality noting that child death has shown an annual reduction rate of 70 percent from 219 per 1, 000 live births in 1990 to 75 death per 1, 000 in 2013 unlike neonatal which has reduced by just 2.2 percent to 27 deaths per 1, 000 live births.
Save The Children believes that accelerating progress to end preventable child deaths will require additional focus and investment to ensure universal coverage of good quality care around the time of birth; to that it has disclosed the development of a global action plan named, ‘Every newborn action plan’ (ENAP) to be presented to the World Health Assembly in May.
The non-governmental organization holds that newborn deaths are not inevitable instead it can be prevented if not avoided if the simplest interventions are made available to all and that includes change of governments’ systems, donors and health professionals because no baby is born to die.