New-born deaths account for more than 50 percent of the regional mortality of children under five in South-East Asia
Nearly 7,400 newborns die every day in South-East Asia, causing untold misery to mothers and families, yet two thirds can be saved with proven cost-effective measures, the United Nations health agency said, calling on Governments to act urgently against a scourge that kills 2.7 million newborns annually.
"Scaling up interventions with good quality care around the time of childbirth and during the first days after birth can substantially prevent complications and infections in new-borns, which are the main causes of new-born deaths," UN World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia regional director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh stressed in Delhi, as health partners signed a pledge to reduce such deaths.
The pledge calls for increasing the health workforce - doctors, nurses and specially midwives - which remains critically low in much of the region, below WHO's target of 23 per 10,000 people, as well as mobilizing sufficient funding and accessing hitherto unreached populations.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), World Bank, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), led by WHO, pledged to jointly support the accelerated reduction in newborn deaths by ensuring equitable access to life-saving interventions for mothers and babies.
Dr Khetrapal Singh said each preventable death should be accounted for. Countries should review maternal and newborn deaths to improve health services to prevent such deaths.