Every Newborn Action Plan Targets Preventable Deaths
Five babies are born every second, and every day over 400,000 women around the world facilitate the miracle of life. Many of these children, however, are given poor chances of survival. 44 percent of children who die before their fifth birthday are taken from the world within their first month of life. 2.9 million babies die within the first month, and an additional 2.6 million babies are stillborn. Arguably more alarming than the statistics is that these deaths are typically preventable.
That’s where the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) comes in. Endorsed in May and launched on June 30, ENAP is an initiative aimed at accelerating action to prevent the numerous newborn deaths around the world. USAID, the UN and other global organizations have banded together to support and promote this plan.
Children are at their most vulnerable during the child delivery process and the first few months of life. Prematurity, asphyxiation and infection are among the serious threats to newborn survival, but they can be minimized with the right steps. Training doctors and nurses to anticipate and prevent these possibly fatal conditions is a vital step in minimizing newborn deaths, and ENAP aims to address this.
ENAP was launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon spoke. He said, “If we increase investments, focus on equity and promote human rights, we can create a world free of preventable maternal and child deaths in just one generation.”
The plan has a timetable, hoping to reduce the neonatal mortality rate per 1000 live births from 15 to 7 by 2035, with less extreme mile markers between now and then. To achieve these goals, over 90 countries have to get behind the movement and accelerate their progress and 29 of these countries will have to “more than double current rates of progress in policy and private sector commitments to save newborn lives.” ENAP outlines how this can be achieved.
ENAP focuses on improving healthcare across myriad specialties including prenatal, pregnancy, postnatal and infant care. It emphasizes thoroughness at every stage, beginning with early pregnancy and not ending until the child and the mother are experiencing stable health. Their plan includes a checklist of criteria for improved pregnancy healthcare, including points like “early initiation of breastfeeding” and “birth companion of choice and skilled attendant at birth.” These things are often a given in the U.S., but are sometimes a luxury in impoverished countries.
Higher survival rates for newborns and mothers would mean great things for fighting global poverty. Population growth is often uncontrollable in impoverished areas because, without a guarantee that children will survive, families often have more children than they can support. This puts strain on communities and lowers quality of life standards significantly. As ENAP reduces newborn deaths, population growth can transition to a steadier rate that can be more easily supported by countries, which will lead to more stable economies and happier people.
With the backing of countries worldwide, the support of institutions such as USAID and the UN and effective implementations of the guidelines of the plan, Every Newborn Action Plan has the potential to save millions of lives in just over two decades.
– Magdalen Wagner
Sources: United Nations, World Health Organization, GhanaWeb, Huffington Post, Mail Online