Good morning & happy Monday! Today kicks off the second full week of the Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday campaign, with a week of facts, stats, tweets, and posts about newborn health.
Having just returned from a visit to Mudzini Kwetu, the home supported by One Home Many Hopes and seeing our youngest arrival (only two weeks old at the time of my visit), I was reminded just how precious and fragile life is in those early weeks, and global statistics underscore the fragility of the health and life of newborns in startling ways. According to global estimates, more than one million newborns dying annually due to pre-term birth, and the neonatal period (a baby’s first 28 days of life) accounts for 41% of all child deaths.
It’s impossible to talk about reducing child mortality without shining focused attention on the number of lives that could be saved in those first 28 days of life with basic interventions. Simple cleaning of the umbilical cord has been shown to reduce newborn mortality by approximately 38%. Diarrheal diseases are easily treated with oral rehydration therapy, including salts and supplemental feeding, reducing the severity of diarrhea by 40% and the duration by 20%, ultimately saving lives. Plus, diarrhea and pneumonia can often be prevented by providing a child with a vaccine (rotavirus and pneumoccocal vaccines, respectively).
We have the technology. We have the knowledge. Now we just need to make sure we maintain our commitments – financial and otherwise – to saving the lives of the smallest of children.
Watch #5thbday on Twitter and get excited for the May 2 launch of the landmark Born Too Soon report, providing the first global estimates of child mortality related to pre-term birth. To target resources and solutions at a problem, we need these kind of global figures, as challenging as they may sometimes be to read.