Every Child Alive
The urgent need to end newborn deaths
S. Devine, G. Taylor | UNICEF | 2018
As this report shows, the risk of dying as a newborn varies enormously depending on where a baby is born. Babies born in Japan stand the best chance of surviving, with just 1 in 1,000 dying during the first 28 days.2 Children born in Pakistan face the worst odds: Of every 1,000 babies born, 46 die before the end of their first month – almost 1 in 20.
Newborn survival is closely linked to a country’s income level. High-income countries have an average newborn mortality rate (the number of deaths per thousand live births) of just 3.3 In comparison, low-income countries have a newborn mortality rate of 27. This gap is significant: If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average, or below, by 2030, 16 million newborn lives could be saved.
A country’s income level explains only part of the story, however. In Kuwait and the United States of America, both high-income countries, the newborn mortality rate is 4. This is only slightly better than lower-middle-income countries such as Sri Lanka and Ukraine, where the newborn mortality rate is 5. Rwanda, a low-income country, has more than halved its newborn mortality rate in recent decades, reducing it from 41 in 1990 to 17 in 2016, which puts the country well ahead of upper-middle-income countries like the Dominican Republic, where the newborn mortality rate is 21. This illustrates that the existence of political will to invest in strong health systems that prioritize newborns and reach the poorest and most marginalized is critical and can make a major difference, even where resources are constrained.