News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

UNICEF: CAR leads 8 African countries most risky for newborns

UNICEF flags up Central African Republic as the most dangerous for children in Africa, second to Pakistan in the world

Eight out of the 10 most dangerous places to newborns are in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new report by UNICEF.

The Central African Republic, Somalia, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Chad are the eight most dangerous African countries where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions, the report said.

Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, according to the new report on newborn mortality released on Tuesday.

The report put the Central African Republic as the second riskiest country to babies in the world after Pakistan and the most dangerous place to newborns in Africa.

Newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds, said the report.

If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved, noted the report.

“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in 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.”

Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report said.

In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.

More than 80 percent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, the report said.

The report said the deaths could 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.