Newborns from world’s poorest countries up to 50 times more likely to die than children born in countries like Australia, UNICEF report finds

SYDNEY/ NEW YORK, Tuesday 20 February 2018:  Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, according to UNICEF’s Every Child ALIVE report on newborn mortality, released today.
Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, at 0.9, 1.0 and 1.1 newborn deaths per 1000 births, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds at 45.6, 42.3 and 40.0 respectively.
Australian newborns have among the highest chance of survival alongside other high income countries, Austria, Belgium and Ireland at 2.2 deaths per 1000 births respectively. However, this national average figure masks inequality that has resulted in newborn mortality rate for Indigenous people nationally of 3.9* and in Northern Territory at 8.4* per 1000. Globally, these results compare to Bulgaria (3.8) and Mauritius (8.4) or Columbia (8.5).
“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five over the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.”
More than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, the report says. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition. However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive. For example, while in Norway there are 218 doctors, nurses and midwives to serve 10,000 people, that ratio is 1 per 10,000 in Somalia.
With Every Child ALIVE, UNICEF is launching a global appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:
•           Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care;
•           Guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;
•           Making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and
•           Empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.
Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places. The report also notes that 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved.
“Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life. One million of them die the day they are born," said Ms. Fore. "We can save the vast majority of these babies with affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and every newborn. Just a few small steps from all of us can help ensure the first small steps of each of these young lives.”
Unequal shots at life **
Highest newborn mortality rates Lowest newborn mortality rates
1. Pakistan: 1 in 22
2. Central African Republic: 1 in 24
3. Afghanistan: 1 in 25
4. Somalia: 1 in 26
5. Lesotho: 1 in 26
6. Guinea-Bissau: 1 in 26
7. South Sudan: 1 in 26
8. Côte d'Ivoire: 1 in 27
9. Mali: 1 in 28
10. Chad: 1 in 28
1. Japan: 1 in 1,111
2. Iceland: 1 in 1,000
3. Singapore: 1 in 909
4. Finland: 1 in 833
5. Estonia: 1 in 769
5. Slovenia: 1 in 769
7. Cyprus: 1 in 714
8. Belarus: 1 in 667
8. Luxembourg: 1 in 667
8. Norway: 1 in 667
8. Republic of Korea: 1 in 667
Download photos, b-roll and the full report here
* Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017
** Note: Newborn mortality rates are estimates with uncertainty ranges. Rankings are based on median estimates of neonatal mortality rates (newborn deaths per 1,000 live births). They don’t account for uncertainties, and ranking positions are therefore subject to change. Rankings exclude countries with fewer than 1,000 live births or less than a population of 90,000. For full ranking of all countries, click here. 
For more information, please contact:
Brinsley Marlay, UNICEF Australia, 0403 604 182,