Launch of The Lancet Neonatal Survival Series
Three million of the four million newborn babies who die worldwide each year could be saved by low-tech and low-cost interventions, concludes a landmark series of articles published online by THE LANCET (Thursday March 3, 2005). Every hour around 450 babies die before the age of four weeks (the neonatal period), mainly from preventable causes. Neonatal deaths worldwide are double that of HIV/AIDS. Although 99% of these deaths occur in poor countries, almost all published research relates to the 1% of newborn deaths in rich countries. The four papers in this series address a major gap in knowledge and provide new evidence detailing the causes of these deaths and the simple, effective interventions that are available to prevent them. The deaths of 10,000 newborn children everyday, largely ignored in global policy, demands immediate and sustained action from international agencies, professional organisations and national governments of both rich and poor countries.
WHEN, WHERE AND WHY ARE FOUR MILLION NEWBORN BABIES DYING EACH YEAR?
The first paper in the series provides powerful statistics to help reduce deaths of newborn children in countries where most of these deaths occur. Globally three-quarters of neonatal deaths occur in the first week of life, with the highest risk of death on the first day of life. Of all deaths in children under the age of five years, nearly 40% occur during the first four weeks of life. South-central Asia has the highest absolute number of neonatal deaths, while sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates. Two-thirds of deaths occur in 10 countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the United Republic of Tanzania).