Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Oct 5, 2012

Global Health Funding Too Often Misses Newborns

Save the Children has released a pioneering report on newborn survival over the last decade that shows the world has greatly overlooked a key area for reducing child deaths—newborn care. Download report highlights

The world has achieved remarkable progress on reducing child deaths—from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010—but that progress isn’t reaching newborn babies at the same pace, the report shows. As a result, newborns (infants in the first month of life) now account for more than 40 percent of child deaths. However, the new report finds that globally only 0.1 percent of official development assistance for maternal and child health exclusively targets newborns, and only 6 percent mentions newborns at all—despite 3.1 million newborn babies dying each year.

“We must make sure to focus global efforts on when are kids are dying. Shockingly, this is right at the start of their lives when they are newborn babies,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. 

The report shows political will to reach the poorest families with the most effective interventions for newborn health has had dramatic results in low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Malawi and Nepal. All three are on track to meet the 2015 target of Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing child deaths by two thirds since 1990, and all have reduced newborn deaths at about double the rate of neighboring countries.

African families have the highest risk of newborn deaths and it would take 150 years at current rates of progress to achieve newborn death rates on par with the United States and Europe.

Other report findings include:

  • Maternal mortality is declining faster than before, but newborn mortality is declining at half that rate—showing that improved maternity services are not enough to combat threats to newborn survival. Declines in newborn mortality rates are also 30 percent slower than those of children under 5 who survive the newborn period.
  • From 2003 to 2008, official development assistance doubled for maternal, newborn and child health in the 68 countries with the most newborn deaths, but only 6 percent of this funding mentioned the word “newborn” and only 0.1 percent included specific newborn care interventions.
  • Family planning—i.e., increased access to voluntary contraception—has led to reductions in newborn deaths, which often relate to too short a time between births or the youth of a mother. Prime examples are Nepal and Bangladesh, where the average number of babies per woman has been reduced by 50 percent.
  • 10 countries—including India and Ethiopia—account for two-thirds of neonatal deaths
  • While economic growth is often linked to improved newborn survival, some of the world’s poorest countries have achieved tremendous progress in both newborn and child survival. These include Malawi in Africa and Nepal in South Asia, both on track to meet MDG4, and Sri Lanka, which, despite conflict there, provides a dramatic example of halving deaths due to preterm birth.
  • The new report includes comprehensive analyses of how Bangladesh, Nepal and Malawi are leaders in reducing newborn deaths, how Uganda has made strides in policy change for newborns, and how in Pakistan national partnerships and champions have kept newborn health on the agenda despite challenges including earthquakes and floods.
  • More than 75 percent of newborn deaths could be prevented in 2015 with universal coverage of high-impact interventions like Kangaroo Mother Care (wrapping newborns in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers for warmth and improved breastfeeding), antibiotics for babies with infections, exclusive breastfeeding, and other basic care.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and 120 countries around the world.

“A Decade of Change for Newborn Survival” was spearheaded by Save the Children’s Newborn Lives program, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and works in partnership with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to reduce newborn mortality and improve newborn health.

Learn more about Save the Children’s campaign for newborn and child survival at www.EveryBeatMatters.org.

Photo credit: Sanjana Shrestha
Photo credit: Sanjana Shrestha

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Oct 5, 2012

Final Project Report

Cristina and Brayan
Cristina and Brayan

Thank you for all your support for project Training and Supplies for Health Workers in Nepal. This is our final report for this project. It is a report from Felix Aguilar Ramírez in Xachmochán Village, Guatemala. 

A Young Mother’s First Experience With Childhood Pneumonia

Last week a Ministry of Health coordinator, Santiago Brito Raymundo, visited my community. I assisted as we examined people who came to us with health problems. My neighbor, a young mother named Cristina, brought her 2-month-old son Brayan to see us. She seemed worried and she told us her baby was sick. I took his temperature and counted his breaths and could see right away he had pneumonia.

I asked Mr. Santiago to double check. He examined Brayan and asked the mother if she was breastfeeding. Cristina said yes she was. We weighed Brayan and he was 13 pounds, which is a good healthy weight. Mr. Santiago confirmed my diagnosis. We explained to Cristina the danger signs to watch for and how to recognize when her child has pneumonia. We gave her antibiotics and explained how to give the medication correctly for 7 days. I think Brayan will be fine in a few days. 

Please take a moment to watch Felix in action. We have posted videos of a day in his life and a video of his visit with Brayan. 

Thank you again for your support. Please consider supporting one of Save the Children's other projects. You can find a complete list of our active projects here: https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/832/save-the-children-federation/.

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Oct 5, 2012

Deep Freeze in Afghanistan Causes Great Sorrow

Photo credit: Mats Lignell / Save the Children
Photo credit: Mats Lignell / Save the Children

Dear Supporter, 

This project has been fully funded. Thank you so very much for your support. Please keep the children of Afghanistan in your hearts as the winter season will be upon them again soon. Here is a story from the field. 

Deep Freeze in Afghanistan Causes Great Sorrow

by Lane Hartill

During her first week of life, Laila was never truly warm.

The mud shack she lived in with her family was ice cold most of the time. Her father, Noor Mohammad, had a choice to make: Should I buy food or firewood? Should his children go hungry or spend another night in the cold? It was a question that has haunted him every winter in this tent camp in Kabul, but this year was different. This year, the cold air that blew down from the Hindu Kush mountains had something sinister about it, Noor Mohammad could feel it.

On good days, he could scrape together some money, and bring home a little firewood or charcoal. Nobody minded that the smoke from the fire dirtied the walls of the hovel and made the kids’ eyes water. Smoke meant heat. And heat, no matter how brief, meant relief for frozen fingers and toes.

But the shack, built four years ago when Noor Mohammad arrived in Kabul after fleeing conflict in the south of the country, didn’t hold the heat. It’s always been a problem, but past winters were milder than this year’s. The first winter in Kabul, he remembers, the kids loved the snow; it was the first time they’d ever seen it.

“They thought it was sugar candy that fell from the sky,” Noor Mohammad says. But this winter, despite plenty of falling white candy, the novelty was gone. The cutting cold took the fun out of it.

So at night, after the fire burned down to embers and the children’s breath became visible, the only defense for the children against cold was to huddle closer together for warmth under some blankets. They ignored the soupy coughs of their siblings and hoped for sleep to come quickly.

In the morning, Noor Mohammad would slip out of the house early and disappear through the warren of shacks to look for work. Soon the children were up and peeking out of the door, their lips still chapped from yesterday, noses still crusted, their hair still oily. They made their way out over the ice that coated the camp and braced for that first blast of freezing morning air. Many wore no socks and none had gloves. Other children were barefoot, wearing plastic flip flops. They’d all learned to ignore the pain of cold seeping into their warm bodies.

While Laila’s siblings were out roaming the camp — cracking icicles off of tents to suck on or collecting garbage to burn for heat — she spent her days wrapped tightly with blankets, watched over by her mother. Even though she had a large family — four sons and three daughters — she doted on Laila.

Not far away, life in Kabul carried on. Horses with ornate jangling bridles trotted down busy streets, passing students buying hot boloni, bread stuffed with potatoes and spices, on the side of the road. Behind many of the tall walls that line the streets are proper houses where Kabul’s well-to-do live. They fend off the cold through countless cups of tea and by easing their legs under a sandali, a traditional Afghan heater that uses hot coals placed under a small table covered by a heavy blanket. If that’s not available, a bukhari, a small stove is used to heat the room. A splash of diesel — usually kept in an old plastic Coke bottle — is squirted on some gnarled firewood to ignite a quick fire.

Noor, gloveless and wrapped in his patu, the traditional Afghan shawl, passed it all. The cold wasn’t the only thing on his mind. He’s unemployed, his children’s health is precarious, and he doesn’t know how long he will have to live in the mud shack.

It’s not just him. There are some 20,000 Afghans living in camps scattered around Kabul. They have fled different parts of the country or returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran. The men wander the frozen alleys of the camps alone with their thoughts, hands clasped behind their backs, still dignified among the squalor. Living in a mud house and having to decide whether you eat or have heat eats away at a man.

As Laila was entering her second week of life, the cold went from being a bothersome, uninvited guest to an ominous villain.

Every time someone walked in the door of the shack, the frigid air blew in, sucking away what little warmth had built up. The cold was relentless; it worked its way through Laila’s thin clothes and found her body. As day gave way to night, the temperature started its slow slide toward unbearable. Laila’s tiny body was no match for Old Man Winter, who was cruel and unforgiving that night.

When Laila stopped breathing, Noor Mohammad knew he had taken her from him.

The next week, the freezing onslaught continued. On Monday, February 7th, the mercury dropped to 5 Fahrenheit, the coldest Kabul has been in 15 years. By that time, more children had died in the camps. The deaths attracted media attention, which got the world’s attention.

Save the Children immediately responded by sending a team to the camp to find out what was needed. The next day, Save the Children distributed hats — knitted by volunteers in the United Kingdom — for children, along with blankets. The following day, tarpaulins, much needed materials to protect houses against snow and spring rains, came next.

More help poured in. Aid agencies delivered firewood, charcoal, milk and hot water bottles. Clothes arrived. And more blankets. One well known Afghan personality, according to media reports, even handed out cash at one camp.

The aid gives Noor Muhammad a little peace of mind. The hats and the blankets are going to help his kids and his wife through the winter. The cold won’t sting as much, and for that he’s grateful.

 
   

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