Leaders Discuss Priority Health Commodities that Save Women’s and Children’s Lives
Select commissioners start the work of the new UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children.
New York, 17 April 2012 – Representatives from the United Nations, the private sector, governments, philanthropy, academia and civil society met today for the first time under the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. The Commission, co-chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, is tasked with promoting consensus around affordable and effective medicines and health supplies that currently do not reach the women and children who most need them.
The commissioners joined the meeting from various remote locations to discuss ways to synthesize existing knowledge about priority life-saving health supplies, which will inform high-level recommendations that will be announced later this year.
An estimated 1,000 women die every day due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these deaths could be prevented or treated if all women had access to simple and affordable health supplies, including medicines and contraceptives. In a recent survey in 31 countries, oxytocin—a medicine to prevent bleeding after childbirth—was regularly available in 74 per cent of all health facilities, and magnesium sulfate—a medicine to treat eclampsia—was available in only 52 per cent of health facilities.
An estimated 1.36 million children die each year due to pneumonia alone. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, can prevent the majority of pneumonia deaths and cost less than $0.50 per treatment course.
Despite the existence of this simple, inexpensive treatment, only 30 per cent of children with suspected pneumonia receive an antibiotic. The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities provides a platform to help overcome major bottlenecks, such as scaling up integrated community case management programmes to effectively identify and treat cases like these.
Some 215 million women in the developing world want family planning but cannot get it. An estimated 10 billion condoms are needed every year. In 2010, only 2.8 billion male condoms and 18 million female condoms were provided by the donor community, mostly to sub-Saharan Africa, where one female condom was distributed for every 13 women of reproductive age and nine male condoms were available for men of reproductive age. The unmet need for contraception results in 82 per cent of all unintended pregnancies in the world, increasing the maternal death risk.
The Commission has requested working groups to take up three main areas of inquiry: market shaping, regulatory environment, and best practices and innovation. The market shaping work stream will identify strategies to promote optimal supply. The regulatory environment group will identify essential areas to ensure that medicines are available in the marketplace. The best practices and innovation work stream will build on previous recommendations made by the UN on information and accountability, focusing on innovative technologies, strategies to create demand and ways to scale up access to the vital health supplies championed by the Commission.
Giving birth without any trained help puts the woman at risk, as she will almost certainly not have access to the care and live-saving medicines necessary if birth-related complications set in. During the period 2000-2008, according to the World Health Organization, less than 50 per cent of women in African and South-East Asia regions gave birth with the assistance of a trained healthcare worker.
The next meeting of the Commission will be held in New York on 22 May, when Commissioners will adopt recommendations for action.
The Commission, which was created by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, under the auspices of the Every Woman Every Child movement, seeks to amplify efforts to save and improve the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
UN Launches Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children
NEW YORK, 23 March 2012 – UNICEF and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, today launched a high-level commission to improve access to essential but overlooked health supplies that could save the lives of millions of women and children every year.
“Making sure that women and children have the medicines and other supplies they need is critical for our push to achieve the MDGs,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Commission will tackle an overlooked but vital aspect of health systems, and ensure that women and children are protected from preventable causes of death and disease.”
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway will serve as founding co-chairs of the Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children, which will also include global stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin are vice-chairs of the Commission, which is part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child movement to support achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“I am honoured to serve as the Co-Chair of this critical UN Commission because I recognize that the health of women and children is at the heart of all well-being and development in our society,” said President Jonathan of Nigeria. “There is no doubt that lives can be saved by increasing access to affordable and effective medicines and health supplies. We must all make a difference and the time is now.”
“The day of birth is the most dangerous day in the life of a woman and her child,” said Prime Minister Stoltenberg. “The fact that women do not get the care they need during childbirth is the most brutal
expression of discrimination against women. To prevent these tragic an unnecessary deaths is not only a humanitarian urgency of highest priority, but a key investment for social and economic development.”
The Commission will identify strategies for improving the delivery of essential health supplies, including strengthening local production capacities, promoting new technologies and products, strengthening regulatory frameworks, and enhancing innovative financing mechanisms at both the global and local levels.
Research shows that increasing coverage of proven, inexpensive interventions, such as antibiotics for pneumonia and oral rehydration solution and zinc for diarrhoea, can reduce childhood deaths from these two most common illnesses by more than 70 per cent. Similarly, obstetric bleeding, the leading cause of maternal death around the world, results in an estimated 127,000 deaths annually, many of which could be prevented with life-saving medicines. Further, recent experience with vaccines, HIV/AIDS medicines and malaria programmes shows that it is possible to reduce the obstacles that result in under-utilization of health supplies, even in the most disadvantaged communities.
Availability, accessibility and affordability of contraceptives for family planning and other life-saving health supplies is also an essential part of well-functioning health systems that are able to serve people in an equitable manner. Some 215 million women currently have an unmet need for family planning in developing countries. Meeting this unmet need would result in 53 million less unintended pregnancies and approximately 100,000 less maternal deaths every year.
The Commission will focus on high-impact health supplies that can reduce the main causes of child and maternal deaths, as well as innovations that can be scaled up, including mechanisms for price reduction and supplies stability.
The Commission will pursue the following outcomes:
• Reducing financial barriers to access through social protection mechanisms, such as fee waivers, vouchers and social insurance, and global financial mechanisms, such as pooled procurement;
• Creating incentives for international and local manufacturers to produce and innovatively package overlooked supplies;
• Identifying fast-track regulatory activities to accelerate registration and reduce registration fees for a special list of products to encourage a focus on quality medicines.
The Commission will advocate at the highest levels to build consensus around priority actions for increasing the availability, affordability, access and rational use of overlooked health supplies that will prevent premature death and disease among children under five years old and women of childbearing age.
For more information on the Commission, visit www.everywomaneverychild.org/resources/un-commission-on-life-saving-commodities
About Every Woman Every Child
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. It is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. Every Woman Every Child puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children. For more information visit www.everywomaneverychild.org
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. For more information about UNFPA and its work visit: www.unfpa.org
For more information contact:
Christian Moen, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, tel: + 1 212 326 7516, email@example.com
Etienne Franca, Media Specialist, UNFPA, tel: +1 212 297 5208, firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Children Launches Report on Malnutrition in Support of Every Woman Every Child
Hidden Malnutrition Crisis to Put Almost Half a Billion Children at Risk without Global Action
Chronic malnutrition is preventable, but remains deadlier and more widespread than food scarcity
Media Contact: Lori Adelman, 646-559-6982, email@example.com
New York, NY. (February 15, 2012) — Despite global efforts to address food security, chronic childhood malnutrition has been largely overlooked, putting almost half a billion children at risk of permanent damage in the next 15 years, Save the Children said in a new report released today.
“Malnutrition is a largely hidden crisis, but it afflicts one in four children around the world,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “It wreaks lifelong damage and is a major killer of children. Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition.”
Save the Children’s new report, titled “A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition,” was released as the world begins to awaken to the latest emergency food crisis, in the African Sahel. But the report reveals that chronic malnutrition, or a lack of proper nutrition over time, is deadlier and far more widespread than the short-term acute malnutrition frequently seen during food crises.
Chronic malnutrition weakens young children’s immune systems, leaving them more likely to die of childhood diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. It leads to 2 million child deaths a year, three times as many as result from acute malnutrition.
But, chronic malnutrition also leaves children far more vulnerable to extreme suffering and death from acute malnutrition when emergency food crises hit, as in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel right now. In total, malnutrition underlies 2.6 million child deaths every year, or one third of all child deaths.
“It’s time for a paradigm shift. The world can no longer afford to wait until visibly emaciated children grab headlines to inspire the action these children need and deserve. Unfortunately for millions of the world’s chronically malnourished children, permanent damage to their physical and intellectual development is not as obvious, and so it’s too often overlooked,” said Miles.
Save the Children’s new report calls for action on proven solutions that would prevent these deaths and help all children affected by hunger and malnutrition. Progress on reducing malnutrition has been extremely slow for 20 years, in comparison to great strides made on other global health crises.
Well-nourished children perform better in school and grow up to earn considerably more on average than those who were malnourished as children. Recent evidence suggests nutritional interventions can increase adult earnings by 46 percent. Malnutrition costs many developing nations an estimated 2-3 percent of their GDP, extends the cycle of poverty, and impedes global economic growth at a critical time.
“World leaders are searching for ways to strengthen their economies over the long term, so why not achieve that through helping children get the healthy start they deserve?” Miles said.
More than 100 organizations have endorsed the Scaling Up Nutrition framework to fight malnutrition that was developed in 2010, including United Nations agencies, governments, private companies, development agencies, research institutions and the World Bank. The framework reflects unprecedented consensus around the need to address chronic malnutrition, also known as stunting.
As Save the Children released its new report, United Nations leaders endorsed its call to action.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General said: “We must end the hidden tragedy of stunting, which affects 200 million children. Food and nutrition security are high on my action agenda for the next five years. I urge all partners to do their utmost to rise to this challenge. Together, we can unlock the potential of current and future generations.”
UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said: “Stunting is rarely obvious until it is too late. The first 1,000 days of life determines a child’s life forever – before birth until the 2nd birthday. After that it is simply too late to repair the damage to the bodies and brains of a child. We are encouraged though there is now an awakening around stunting thanks to the leadership of many governments and the Scaling Up Nutrition movement.”
Lagging Action from World Leaders
While addressing food security, world leaders have galvanized much-needed support to boost agricultural productivity, but they have yet to make nutrition central to their efforts. In 2009, President Obama helped spearhead the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, which inspired $22 billion in pledges at the G8 and G20 meetings. Yet, only 3 percent of these pledges and less than 1 percent of pledges fulfilled to date have targeted nutrition.
“Investment in agriculture is clearly important to making sure production keeps up with a growing population,” said Miles. “But let’s not forget, right now the world produces enough food to feed everybody, and yet one third of children in developing countries are malnourished. Clearly, just growing more food is not the answer.”
“The United States has shown great leadership on nutrition, but now must call on other powerful nations to make it a global priority,” she added.
Many expect President Obama will again address food security when he hosts this spring’s G8 meeting in Chicago. Save the Children is calling on the G8 to extend food security funding at current levels for three years while including greater focus on nutrition.
A Solvable Crisis
According to seminal research published in the Lancet medical journal in 2008, a set of 13 basic interventions could prevent the vast majority of malnutrition, especially in the critical 1,000-day window between conception and age 2. These include encouraging breastfeeding to avoid contaminated water, proper introduction of varied foods for infants, fortification of basic staples and vitamin supplementation.
The World Bank has estimated the cost of getting these solutions to 90 percent of the children who need them would annually save 2 million lives and cost $10 billion. Split among developing and developed countries, that sum is manageable, Save the Children says.
If the world fails to act and the current rate of progress of reducing chronic malnutrition continues at less than 1 percent a year, 450 million children will be affected in the next 15 years, Save the Children says.
Nutrition Key to Child Health and Survival
Efforts to reduce childhood malnutrition feed into Every Woman Every Child, an unprecedented global movement spearheaded by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world. Working with leaders from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015 and improve the lives of millions more.
Save the Children has committed to support Every Woman Every Child with up to $500 million per year over 5 years, including $150 million contributed by private individuals, to: promote policy changes that accelerate progress on MDG4; expand and intensify efforts to integrate proven technology into health systems to protect newborns in 12 priority countries; train 400,000 health workers; mobilize civil society to hold governments accountable; engage with multi-sector partners to help deliver life-saving programming.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world.
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
Media Contact: Lori Adelman, 646-559-6982, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fashion Industry Moves to Support Women and Youth
“Creating a link between fashion and development can be key to sustainable development. We can create jobs in local communities, create greater wellbeing and give them the dignity which they deserve” said today editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Ms. Franca Sozzani, first Goodwill Ambassador of Fashion 4 Development. “This is a business that largely employs women, so we can use this not only as a way to create economic income but also advance women’s empowerment and gender equality”.
“We are making our contribution by mobilizing the global fashion industry to implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth and empowerment of communities worldwide. We urge those who already invest in Africa and other countries in most need to join us in doing even more, involving new partners and being innovative in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals” echoed Global Chair of Fashion 4 Development, Ms Evie Evangelou.
Recognizing the links between women’s empowerment and women’s and children’s health, Fashion 4 Development announced in particular their commitment to act as a catalyst for urgent action against preventable death and disease among the world’s most vulnerable people. To that end, Fashion 4 Development joins the Every Woman Every Child movement, an unprecedented global effort spearheaded by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world. By mobilizing the fashion industry sensitizing as well as actively supporting the implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, the framework for action for Every Woman Every Child, Fashion 4 Development joins governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, in a global effort to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
“Each year, millions of women and children die from pregnancy, childbirth and preventable causes. These deaths can and must be stopped, we know what works.” said Robert Orr, UN Assistant Secretary General for Policy Planning in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. “Everyone has a role to play in our common goal to save these lives. The private sector has real potential to become a game-changer in our efforts to put an end to the paradox of women dying while giving life.”
“So many women and children die from preventable causes,” said Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Founder and Chair of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), an early supporter of Every Woman Every Child and long-time advocate for maternal and children’s health in Africa, “but through new commitments and connections such as Fashion 4 Development’s, so many can survive, lead healthy lives, and contribute to their communities. WBFA is excited about our continued role as a catalyst and a bridge to bringing international partnerships such as the fashion industry to bear on the maternal, newborn and child health challenge across Africa.”
“I am convinced that Fashion – among Italy’s most qualifying industrial assets – can be another tool to enhance the Italian contribution to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals and, more broadly, the United Nations’ mission. The initiative Fashion 4 Development is a promising and tangible prove of such endeavour. Thanks to the passion and dedication of Franca Sozzani, a leading figure in the Italian Fashion world and now Goodwill Ambassador of Fashion 4 Development, several African producers and young designers will find an export opportunity for their goods, promoting “made in Africa” apparel and accessories that will appeal to Western markets and create development opportunities. It is a fascinating challenge that Italy is supporting, convinced that such efforts can help making a difference” expressed Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Italian Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Fashion 4 Development (“F4D”) is a global awareness campaign that unites diplomacy, media, business and the creative industries for the purpose of helping to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). F4D is a global platform with partners interested in the universal investment in people and the planet. In full support of the United Nations, F4D seeks to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries to implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth and autonomy for individuals and communities worldwide. The core principles that underlie the mission of Fashion 4 Development dare to Educate, Empower, Enhance, and Enrich the lives of all those involved in its cooperative effort
About Every Woman Every Child
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, Every Woman Every Child is a global effort that brings together governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector with the aim to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015 and improve the lives of millions more. To date, almost 200 partners have made joined Every Woman Every Child. All common efforts put into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children.
The Innovation Working Group and the mHealth Alliance Announce Grantees to Improve Women’s and Children’s Health Using Mobile Technology
Washington, DC – On December 6 at the 2011 mHealth Summit, the Innovation Working Groupand the mHealth Alliance announced the recipients of eight catalytic grants for mobile health (mHealth) programs. The grants, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), are designed to identify and foster innovative uses of mobile technology to advance maternal and newborn health, with a special focus on growing programs with sustainable financing models and early indications of impact.
A New Global Focus on Preterm Births
Marshall Hoffman, H&H, +1 703 533-3535, +1 703 801-8602 (mob); email@example.com
Nils Hoffman, H&H Video, +1 703 967-1490; firstname.lastname@example.org
Michele Kling, MoD, +1 914 997-4613, +1 914 843-9487 (mob); email@example.com
Fadéla Chaib, WHO, +41 22 791 32 28, +41 79 475 55 56 (mob); firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Kiernan, Save The Children, +1 202 640 6664 , +1 202 412 7579 (mob); email@example.com
Additional Background and Resources:
Background materials on Born Too Soon report and preterm birth: https://everywomaneverychild.org/borntoosoon
Every Woman Every Child commitments to preterm birth: https://everywomaneverychild.org/commitments (search by “issue area”)
For TV Producers: B-roll on the Hoffman & Hoffman website: www.hoffmanpr.com/world/preterm/B-roll
Facebook for parent stories and an interactive map of preterm births: www.facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay
Preterm birth is the world’s largest killer of newborn babies, causing more than 1 million deaths each year, yet 75 percent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.
That’s the primary message and motivating theme of World Prematurity Day, November 17, a global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.
On World Prematurity Day, countries in nearly every part of the world will take action to raise awareness of what can be done to reduce preterm births and better care for babies born too soon.
Families affected by premature birth can share stories, photos, and videos, and identify their locations on an interactive world map on facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay. More than 700,000 visited this website in 2011.
“People think that preterm babies need intensive, high-tech care, but we have simple methods that really work and would save hundreds of thousands of lives,” says Joy Lawn, M.D., Ph.D., of Save the Children, a neonatal physician.
12.6 million moderate to late preterm births
Babies born between 32 and less than 37 completed weeks of pregnancy make up 85 percent of the 15 million preterm babies born annually –12.6 million.
“These babies are born too soon, but they are not born to die,” says Dr. Lawn. “Their deaths are utterly preventable.”
“We know what it takes to address the challenge of prematurity and we are committed to bringing partners together behind proven, affordable solutions,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who launched The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in 2010. The Global Strategy is supported by Every Woman Every Child, an umbrella movement that has already leveraged more than $20 billion in new money and aims to save the lives of 16 million by 2015.
The countries with the greatest numbers of moderate to late preterm births annually are:
India –2,959,300; China –981,050; Nigeria –665,080; Pakistan –633,640; Indonesia –564,350; United States –438,410; Bangladesh –355,030; Philippines –295,780; Democratic Republic of Congo –291,750; and Brazil –233,320.
Essential newborn care
“Essential newborn care is especially important for babies born preterm,” said Elizabeth Mason, M.D., Director of WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health. “This means keeping them warm, clean, and well-fed, and ensuring that babies who have difficulty breathing get immediate attention.”
Three low-cost interventions that are very effective, but are not commonly used, are:
· Steroid injections. When given to mothers in preterm labor, dexamethosone, a steroid used to treat asthma, helps speed up the development of the baby’s lungs. At a cost of about US$1, two shots can stop premature babies from going into respiratory distress when they are born. This can prevent 400,000 deaths annually.
· Kangaroo Mother Care. Using this technique, the tiny infant is held skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest. This keeps the baby warm and facilitates breastfeeding. Keeping preterm babies warm is especially important because their tiny bodies lose heat rapidly, making them highly vulnerable to illness, infection and death. This could prevent 450,000 deaths annually.
· In addition, basic antibiotics can save lives, such as amoxicillin to treat pneumonia and injection antibiotics to fight serious infections.
“Using an essential package of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care that includes these interventions will save more than three quarters of preterm babies without intensive care,” says Carole Presern, Ph.D., head of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) and a midwife. “Most of these infants can grow up healthy and without lifelong disabilities.”
Prevention is the next frontier
A key way to reduce the burden of preterm birth is to find ways to help pregnancies go to full term, or at least 39 weeks.
“Prevention is the next frontier,” says Christopher Howson, Ph.D.,Vice President of Global Programs for the March of Dimes and an epidemiologist. “We are looking closely at what can be done before a woman gets pregnant to help her have an optimal outcome.”
A number of risk factors for mothers to deliver prematurely have been identified, including a prior history of preterm birth, underweight, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, infection, age (either under 17 or over 40), genetics, multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, and more) and pregnancies spaced too closely together.
“We also know that poverty, lack of women’s education, malaria and HIV all have an impact on the pregnancy and the health of the baby,” says Dr. Howson. “However, little is known about the interplay of these and other environmental and social factors in increasing the risk of preterm birth. We need to know more and this knowledge could have a big impact in the lowest income countries.”
Documented success for steroid use and Kangaroo Mother Care
In high-income countries, steroids have been widely used for women in preterm labor since the 1990s and an estimated 95 percent of women in preterm labor before 34 weeks of pregnancy now receive steroid injections prior to delivery.
By comparison, in low- and middle-income countries, only an estimated 5 percent of women receive these steroid injections.
Dr. Lawn says that these medicines are rarely used in the developing world, despite the low cost and proven effectiveness, because health care professionals do not know about this life-saving use. In fact, antenatal steroids are now identified by a new UN-led Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children as an essential medicine that should be available everywhere.
“The use of steroids should be part of the ‘to do’ list of everyone looking after women in pregnancy. It should be written on hospital walls,” says Dr. Lawn. “In America or Europe, if a woman in preterm labor were not given steroid injections, the doctor could be sued for malpractice, as this is the standard of care. Why should a woman in Africa or Asia not get the same care, especially given the low cost?”
Kangaroo Mother Care started as a solution for overcrowded nurseries in Colombia where tiny infants were forced to share what incubators were available. The technique works well for both mothers and babies. Studies show that the mortality rate for babies who benefit from Kangaroo Mother Care can be the same or better than that for babies in incubators.
Though Kangaroo Mother Care was developed in 1967, the spread has been slow despite the well-documented effectiveness and its benefits for child development.
“One reason for the slow spread in some areas could simply be a lack of information about what works,” says Dr. Presern. “Another may be that many obstetricians, midwives and nurses find it hard to accept that such a natural approach could be superior to expensive high technology equipment.”
Countries make new commitments
On World Prematurity Day, a number of countries will announce major commitments to reduce preterm mortality. These countries have each adopted packages of interventions to care for premature babies and are championing initiatives in their countries and others. For example:
· Malawi has the world’s highest preterm birth rate, a statistic that led the Vice President Khumbo Kachali and the country’s health leaders to prioritize care for preterm babies, instituting Kangaroo Mother Care and providing steroid injections in almost all hospitals.
· India—with nearly 3 million moderate to late preterm births, the largest number in the world, and 304,000 preterm deaths per year—has been working with support from UNICEF to outfit 100 district hospitals to care for preterm babies.
· Uganda has committed to speeding access to steroid injections for all women in preterm labor.
Born Too Soon report stimulates activity
Publication of the Born Too Soon report in May 2012 by the March of Dimes, PMNCH, the World Health Organization and Save the Children drew global attention to what many consider one of the world’s most overlooked public health problems. The report included the first country-by-country statistics for both absolute numbers and rates of preterm birth, documenting the extent and severity of the problem, also published in The Lancet.
The report showed that preterm births are not solely a problem of the developing world, but that wealthy countries, including the United States and Brazil, were also in the top 10, in terms of absolute numbers. To mark the publication of the report, more than 30 organizations made new or enhanced commitments in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort launched by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
About World Prematurity Day
Started last year by the March of Dimes and founding parent groups –European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), Africa-based Little Big Souls International Foundation and the National Premmie Foundation of Australia— World Prematurity Day will this year spread throughout the world, now involving more than 50 countries and groups globally.
Events are planned in many countries, including the United States, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Malawi, Uganda and Argentina, to draw public attention to the problem of preterm birth and the simple care that can save many of these babies.
* * *
Born Too Soon Supporters: Governments, United Nations agencies, development partners, foundations, civil society, parents’ organizations, health professional associations, academia, and the private sector.
The Aga Khan University, American Academy of Pediatrics, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Australian Aid, Bliss UK, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian International Development Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Countdown to 2015, European Foundation for Care of Newborn Infants, Family Care International, Flour Fortification Initiative, GAVI Alliance, General Electric, Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, Home for Premature Babies (China), Institute for Clinical Effectiveness for Health Policy, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, International Confederation of Midwives, International Pediatric Association, International Preterm Birth Collaborative, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Ecole de Santé Publique, Université de Kinshasa, Little Big Souls International Foundation Africa and UK, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, National Premmie Foundation Australia, Nationwide Children’s, National Collaborative Perinatal Neonatal Network, Norwegian Agency for International Development, Peking University Center of Medical Genetics, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Tommy’s, UK Department for International Development, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, United Nations Population Fund, United States Agency for International Development, University College London, University of Malawi, University of Texas Medical Branch, Institute of Human Genetics (University of the Philippines), Women Deliver.
Countries and territories
|Number of moderate to late preterm births
(32 to <37 completed weeks) (2011)
|Number of deaths due to preterm birth complications (2011)|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||291,750||43,600|
|United Republic of Tanzania||184,560||16,930|
|Iran (Islamic Republic of)||136,950||7,740|
|Syrian Arab Republic||42,630||1,880|
|Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)||41,010||2,020|
|Republic of Korea||37,140||500|
|Democratic People’s Republic of Korea||31,470||2,700|
|Bolivia (Plurinational State of)||20,080||2,210|
|Central African Republic||16,560||2,340|
|Lao People’s Democratic Republic||12,750||890|
|Papua New Guinea||11,500||1,740|
|Libyan Arab Jamahiriya||10,070||630|
|United Arab Emirates||6,010||170|
|Republic of Moldova||4,380||50|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2,110||50|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1,350||90|
|Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||1,250||80|
|Sao Tome and Principe||460||50|
Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth – Updated for 2011with live births and neonatal mortality estimates for 2011 from The UN Interagency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.
Numbers of babies with moderate to late preterm birth: Blencowe H, Cousens S, Oestergaard M, Chou D, Moller AB, Narwal R, Adler A, Garcia CV, Rohde S, Say L, Lawn JE. National, regional and worldwide estimates of preterm birth, The Lancet, June 2012.
Deaths due to preterm birth complications data: Liu L, Johnson HL, Cousens S, Lawn JE et al. 2012. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2000–2010: an updated systematic analysis. The Lancet, June 2012. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60560-1.
Preterm birth prevention analysis: Hannah H. Chang, Jim Larson, Hannah Blencowe, Catherine Y. Spong, Christopher P. Howson, Sarah Cairns-Smith, Eve M. Lackritz, Shoo K. Lee, Elizabeth Mason, Andrew C. Serazin, Salimah Walani, Joe Leigh Simpson, Joy E. Lawn. Preventing preterm births: trends and potential reductions with current interventions in 39 very high human development index countries. The Lancet in press.