The first 24 hours of a child's life are the most dangerous, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to new research published by Save the Children.
The new report, "Ending Newborn Deaths,"shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.
The children's aid agency says the deaths happen because of premature birth and complications during birth, such as prolonged labor, pre-eclampsia and infection, which can be avoided if quality health experts are present.
The research also found an additional 1.2 million babies are stillborn each year, their heartbeats stopping during labor because of childbirth complications, maternal infections and hypertension.
In a bid to save millions of newborn lives, Save the Children has called on world leaders to commit in 2014 to a blueprint for change – The Five Point Newborn Promise – which focuses on training and equipping enough skilled health workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.
The world has made amazing progress in reducing child mortality during the past decade – nearly halved from 12 million to 6.6 million – thanks to global political action on immunization, treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, family planning and nutrition.
But this progress could stall without urgent action to tackle scandalously high numbers of newborns dying. This report warns that newborn deaths now account for nearly half of all under-five deaths.
Parents throughout developing countries are frustrated by the staggering 40 percent of primary-school-age children who are unable to read, write, or do basic math by fourth grade, according to a new report.
Save the Children released the report, "Right to Learn," this afternoon at the United Nations during a presentation co-sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide, UNICEF, the UN's Global Education First Initiative, UNESCO, ASER Pakistan, and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution. The report's insights come as the global community considers next steps to the UN's Millennium Development Goals – the world's largest anti-poverty effort ever – which expire in December 2015.
The current set of goals have led to record numbers of girls and boys attending school, but learning outcomes in many areas remain grossly inadequate for preparing students to reach their professional aspirations as adults. Parents and advocates from India to Zimbabwe report high teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classrooms, poor facilities, lack of books and more.
"We are facing a real and global crisis in learning," said Meredy Talbot-Zorn, global development manager at Save the Children and co-author of the report. "Parents are frustrated. Right now, we are failing them, and failing children."
"This is a call to action for anyone who cares about the world's children," said Laura Henderson, director of education policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, and a reviewer of the report. "This report brings parents' concerns directly to the world leaders who will shape education priorities around the world."
The report shows that while parents expect their children to learn basic skills at school, they face many barriers for holding schools, service providers and government accountable. The report also cites several country examples of where parents and stakeholders are working together to improve accountability for children's progress in learning and getting positive results.
The findings of the report are based on qualitative research in seven countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
"When the current Millennium Development Goals were being created, parents and advocates from developing countries were largely left out from being able to provide input," continued Henderson. "That can't happen again. World leaders need to be accountable to parents for the quality of education that their children receive."
Save the Children has included six recommendations for UN institutions and member states to get education and learning for children right:
"There's just too much at stake for decision-makers not to listen to parents and advocates in developing countries about what needs to be done to improve education and learning for the world's children," said Talbot-Zorn.
"When we went out of the house, my father was hit by a collapsed wall. There was blood everywhere. I tried to wake him up but he wasn't moving anymore. The water got even higher and I wanted to carry my father with the tide but I thought we would both die.
I was scared and crying.
I swam and swam and every time I was tired I would cling to a log. Then I would swim again. It was a miracle that I survived.
When I was swimming, the rain felt like needles on my face. I was very afraid for my mother and siblings as well as I thought they were all dead."
Drifting through the village, Rafael finally fell asleep.
"When I woke up it was a miracle because I was in another village and I saw some of my friends."
He began walking to the evacuation center to meet with his family. The first thing he told his mother when he got there was that his dad had died and they both cried together.
His mother told him that they had been through similar things on their way out. They have a baby and one of the youngest children is disabled with slow mental and physical development.
"Dad was really protective and generous. Although we are poor, he would always make sure that he would bring something home to us after work. Whenever he prepared his coffee he would share half of the cup with me."
They are now living in a van outside the center as they cannot stand the stench inside.
"We are getting sick, my siblings are always coughing because it is very cold and we don't have any dry clothes at the moment. We don't have anything with us.
The problem is that they have two baby siblings and they don't have water. They are drinking water from a water hose and it is not clean."
Save the Children is responding to Typhoon Haiyan. Please donate to our GlobalGiving project for typhoon relief
Children were the face of a record year of disasters in the United States. That's why Save the Children has produced our annual America’s 2013 National Report Cardon Protecting Children in Disasters. This year's report focused on how unsatisfactory gaps in prepardness put children at risk before disaster strikes.
Did you know?
• 28 states and the District of Columbia still fail to meet minimum standards to protect children recommended by the National Commission on Children and Disasters.
• 17 states don’t require child care providers to have an evacuation plan.
• 16 states don’t require child care providers to have a family reunification plan.
• 24 states don’t require child care providers to have a plan for children with disabilities or with access and functional needs.
• 6 states and the District of Columbia don’t require schools to have a disaster plan that addresses multiple types of hazards.
• Schools and child care centers are often not required to practice emergency plans regularly.
• Families are often not well-informed about reunification plans or asked to update emergency contact information.
• Emergency responders often have no official registry of child care centers to facilitate plans to reach all children.
• State and community emergency plans often fail to adequately account for the needs of children.
Find out if your state makes the grade and how you can better prepare your family for disasters and emergencies at Get Ready. Get Safe.
Salif* lives in Mali, but sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon in many nations around the world. The United Nations defines an attack as any intentional threat or use of force directed against students, teachers, education personnel and/or education institutions, carried out for political, religious or criminal reasons.[i] Nearly 50 million children and young people in conflict zones face these unnerving barriers to education every day, keeping them out of school and preventing them from reaching their true potential.
On July 12, 2013, youth delegates from around the globe met at the United Nations in New York City to fight for a quality education for all children, even those living in areas of war and conflict. They were joined by children like Malala, a Pakistani school girl and education activist whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to learn when she was shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school.
Sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon. The number of recorded attacks on education has increased in recent years. Global reports show these confrontations and acts of violence are widespread in a number of on-going conflicts. Based on UN data, Save the Children estimates that there were more than 3,600 separate, documented attacks on education in 2012.[ii]
Save the Children is calling on world leaders to tackle this crisis and commit to the following:
To learn more, read our report, Attacks on Education: The Impact of Conflict and Grave Violations on Children's Futures.
[i] See Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), What Is an Attack on Education?; UNESCO, Education Under Attack 2010, Paris, 2010, see pg 23-28[ii] UNESCO, Institute of Statistics and Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR), Schooling for millions of children jeopardised by reductions in aid, UIS Factsheet No. 25, June 2013
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