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newborns die every year



of these deaths are preventable

Since 1990, child mortality has halved globally. However, neonatal mortality, defined as death within the first 28 days of life, has declined at a much slower rate. Newborn deaths represent 47% of all under-five deaths and complications of pre-term birth are the world’s leading killer of children[1].

Small and sick newborns are at the greatest risk of death and disability. Of the 2.4 million newborns that die per year[2], approximately 80% of these are low-birth-weight and two-thirds are premature[1].

A total of 30 million newborns per year require some level of specialised or intensive care in hospitals around the world[1]. Of those that do survive, many do with lifelong conditions and disabilities that are preventable.

The world has pledged to end the tragedy of preventable newborn deaths.

12 or fewer neonatal deaths per 1000 live births by 2030

Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 (SDG 3.2) set the first ever global targets for newborn survival. However, at current rates of progress, this target will not be met. 60 countries are behind the level of progress needed with around 40 countries needing to double their current progress[1].

80% of all districts in every country have at least one level-2 inpatient newborn care unit by 2025

The Every Newborn Action Plan set new coverage targets and milestones for 2020-2025. This focuses on the coverage of antenatal, birth, postnatal and newborn care at national and sub-national levels.

Neonatal survival around the world

The majority of neonatal deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), with over 80% in sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia[2]. This map shows national neonatal mortality rates from the latest estimates led by UN-IGME. For more details please see UNICEF data.

South Asia has the largest number of newborn deaths and several countries are at risk of missing SDG 3.2, but there is also major ambition for change, for example with India’s INAP and a single digit neonatal mortality rate target. At current rates of progress, Sub-Saharan Africa will be the last global region to achieve SDG 3.2 for newborn survival, predicted to reach the target 20 years too late.  For some African countries, especially those with humanitarian crises, it may be over 1000 years before their newborns it have the same chance of survival as a newborn in North America, Europe, or Australasia[2].

For an easy to use excel of relevant national data by country for mortality, preterm birth rates, and other indicators based on UN estimate  by country please see HNN Newborn Numbers page.

Small and sick newborns require high-quality inpatient care

There is a continued investment in improving care and survival for small and sick newborns. However, most of these approaches have focussed on single interventions. Most newborns will have more than one problem and therefore require multiple interventions. The delivery of these interventions depends on having a functioning health system, such as adequate infrastructure, resources, human resources and information systems to track progress.

To meet the targets, immediate action is required to scale-up small and sick newborn care

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The Implementation Toolkit for Small and Sick Newborn Care is co-created by NEST360 and UNICEF with inputs from global partners. This website is funded through the NEST360 alliance which is made possible by generous commitments from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The ELMA Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation, The Chiesi Foundation, the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation and individual donors...

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