28, Feb 2018 | CJP Team
UNICEF recently released a report documenting the “alarmingly high” rate of newborn deaths around the world. However, Bangladesh features as one of the positive stories. Bangladesh has managed to reduce its newborn mortality rate from 64.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 1990, to 20.1 for every 1,000 live births currently. In 1990, 241,000 newborn babies did not survive their first month of life. In 2016, this figure was 62,000, which, while still a very high number, indicates progress that other impoverished countries haven’t seen, according to the report. Abdul Mannan, a doctor and chairman of neonatalogy at a Dhaka hospital, told NPR that a major factor was working to decrease the number of births taking place in homes rather than health facilities, with around 90% of deliveries happening at home in 1990. Nabila Zaka, a doctor who is UNICEF’s senior adviser on maternal and newborth health, told NPR that this was cultural, given limited access to health facilities; those who did have access also avoided it. In 2010, Bangladesh mounted an effort, collaborating with donor countries and agencies like UNICEF to train health workers, open more childbirth facilities, and attempt to persuade people to use them. According to Mannan, today Bangladesh sees 50% home deliveries. Bangladesh’s government is also conducting a campaign against child marriage, because younger girls are more at risk for premature deliveries, which can cause newborn deaths. It is currently the leading cause of such deaths in the country. The government is also prioritising opening intensive care units for newborn babies, Mannan said.