PRESS RELEASE – Each year, 96,000 children die before reaching the age of one month in the Democratic Republic of Congo. UNICEF is launching a global campaign to save newborns.
The number of neonatal deaths worldwide remains alarming, particularly in the poorest countries, according to a new report published today by UNICEF on neonatal mortality. The report lists the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) among the countries with very high rates of neonatal mortality. In the DRC, one out of 35 newborns dies before the age of one month, or 96,000 newborns a year. In absolute numbers, the DRC is one of four countries in the world with the highest number of neonatal deaths.
“Even with the considerable progress made by the DRC in terms of reducing the infant-juvenile mortality rate from 148 in a thousand live births in 2007 to 104 in 2017, the number of newborn deaths remains high. The situation is exacerbated by, among other things, the conflicts and crises which prevent pregnant women from getting proper care during delivery“, underscored Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Representative a.i in the DRC.
Complications due to prematurity, asphyxia, as well as neonatal infections such as septicemia and pneumonia are responsible for more than 80 per cent of neonatal deaths, according to the report. If mothers delivered at health care centres, most of the deaths could be prevented with simple procedures and basic care during birth such as keeping the newborn warm, attending to the umbilical cord, resuscitating the newborn in case of asphyxia, breast feeding during the first hour after delivery, and being overseen by qualified midwives during their maternity stay. It is also crucial that the hospital work environment be improved by ensuring that potable water is available and that hygiene and prevention measures are taken to avoid infections.
UNICEF is launching a worldwide campaign this month called For every child, a chance to live. The goal of the campaign is to insist that solutions be offered to newborns the world over. The UNICEF campaign is immediately calling on governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to give each child a chance to live by undertaking the following measures:
- – recruit, train, provide positions for, and manage, doctors, nurses and midwives specialized in maternal and neonatal care;
- – establish clean and properly functioning health care centres, and ensure that water, soap and electricity are accessible for every mother and child;
- – ensure that priority is given to having vital medications and materials essential to a proper start in life for every mother and newborn;
- – give adolescents, mothers and families, the means to insist on receiving quality care.
In an effort to address the high rate of newborn mortality, the DRC is taking part in several global initiatives aimed at ending the deaths of mothers and newborns due to preventable causes by improving the quality of care. As part of its global campaign For every child, a chance to live, UNICEF is calling on all health care providers in the DRC to pay particular attention to the health of children from the time they are born, to firmly commit to fund neonatal services and to improve all levels of prenatal care.
Dr. Oyewale insisted that: “Most of the newborn deaths in the DRC are preventable. The only thing needed is affordable, quality health care that is accessible to all newborns. We must all work together to make this happen.”
UNICEF works in some of the most inhospitable regions of the world to reach the most needy of children. We are present in 190 countries and territories, working for all children, every day, in order to build a better world for all.
For further information, contact:
- – Yves Willemot, UNICEF RDC, [email protected]; +243 81 88 46 746;
- – Sylvie Sona, UNICEF RDC, [email protected]; +243 81 70 96 215.
Translated from French by Marguerite Mc Millan
Yves Willemot est le chef de l’Équipe InfoCom de l’UNICEF RDC. Plus que tout, ce qui est important pour lui c'est d'être "tous ensemble pour les enfants".
Yves Willemot is Head of the UNICEF DRC InfoCom Team. More than anything, he believes that the most important is to "be together for the children".
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