Newborn deaths on the rise globally, WHO report finds

A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found 2.7 million babies die in the first 28 days of life every year.

It says most deaths occur in the first week.

Newborn deaths account for 45% of under-five deaths globally, up from 40% in 1990.

Each day, an estimated 830 women and 7,300 newborns die. While over 7,000 women experience a stillbirth and half of these occur after labour has begun.

The WHO says 2.6 million babies die in the last three months of pregnancy or during childbirth (stillbirths) and 303,000 maternal deaths occur each year.

It says three-quarters of newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions: complications due to prematurity, events during childbirth and neonatal infections.

Among countries with the highest number of newborn deaths are India, China, Ethiopia, Egypt and Brazil.

Source: WHO

The WHO says nearly all maternal deaths and all stillbirths that occur during labour "are preventable" with quality care during childbirth.

An action plan to end preventable deaths was endorsed in 2014 by 194 states.

The Every Newborn Action Plan identifies eight specific measures.

The WHO says the plan "presents evidence-based solutions to prevent newborn deaths and stillbirths.

"It sets out a clear path to 2020 with specific global and national milestones.

"The plan was based on evidence presented in The Lancet Every Newborn series, and developed within the Every Woman Every Child framework."

The WHO says: "Country leadership has been critical to strengthen engagement, action and partner harmonization efforts toward the implementation of the Every Newborn Action Plan, which targets the reduction of the neonatal mortality rate to 12 or fewer per 1,000 live births and stillbirths to 12 or fewer per 1,000 births in all countries by 2030."

The WHO says 43 countries and territories have defined a Newborn Mortality Reduction target, while 10 report they have defined a Stillbirth Reduction target.