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Preventing newborn deaths must be a global priority: UNICEF

2014-05-29

Canada mobilizes support for innovation, integrated action for youngest children

#EveryNewborn

TORONTO, 29 May 2014 - Every minute, 10 babies die or are stillborn across the world, a staggering 5.5 million lives ended every year just as they start.  The majority of those deaths are from preventable causes, including prematurity, childbirth complications and newborn infections. 

While child death rates have been reduced by almost half since 1990, newborn mortality has increased as a proportion of overall of child mortality, as highlighted by papers published in The Lancet earlier this month. 

“We are succeeding in rapidly reducing child mortality because we have made it a global priority, with a commitment to innovation, partnership, and equity,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.   “We need the same global commitment, and the same political will, to reduce newborn mortality — working together to find new ways of reaching every family."

Poorer families bear the greatest burden of newborn deaths.  If current trends continue, it will take over a century before a baby in the Central African Republic has the same chances of survival as a baby born in Canada.

Lake hailed Canada’s leadership in galvanizing global support to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.  The Toronto Summit will explore the most effective ways to speed up progress on newborn, child and health. 

Improving newborn and child health also depends on better accountability — and more thorough accounting.

In 2012 alone, around two out of five births worldwide were not registered. Around the world, nearly 230 million children under age five have never been recorded – meaning they do not have the legal identity they need to access health, education and other services. And the numbers will rise unless action is taken.

But increasing the number of children registered at birth enables governments to improve the planning and budgeting of life-saving interventions, and to summon the political will and civil society support that is needed to meet targets.

“This year we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Millions of children are still being deprived of the most precious right — the right to survive,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  “We must reach every family, every woman, every child, and every newborn.”

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.