Newborn action plan approved

26.5.2014 12.30
News item N5-64610
The World Health Assembly of the World Health Organisation WHO has approved an action plan aimed at improving the health of mothers and children. Although infant mortality has decreased significantly around the world, much still needs to be done, as millions of children and woman are still dying prematurely either in childbirth or soon after birth.

There has been success in reducing mortality among children under the age of five, but there is much room for improvement in reducing mortality among newborns. Mortality among children under five has decreased by half since 1990. At the same time, mortality among newborns has declined by less than one third. The plan of action is aimed at taking issue with this.

The aim of the programme is to improve care during birth and in the first week after the birth, to improve the quality of maternity and postnatal care, to reach every woman and child, to get families and communities to join in the work, and to develop a comprehensive registry of births in order to register and follow-up on all births as well as possible deaths and causes of death.

The proper handling of births and the care of newborns with illnesses require functioning healthcare which is available to all population groups. In many poor countries the infrastructure of healthcare is very inadequate, but changes are possible through very simple means.

Significant results can be achieved by breast feeding in the first six months of a child's life, for instance, and by improving hygiene in the cutting of the umbilical cord as ways of avoiding infection. Also, kangaroo care in which the mother's skin is in direct contact with the baby's skin, to even out body temperature, breathing, and heartbeat, is an effective way to reduce mortality among newborns. Also, drying the baby immediately after birth to avoid hypothermia, and the use of a breathing bag for resuscitation of a newborn are effective ways to assure the survival of newborn babies.

Information on research aimed at reducing mortality has significantly increased, and most deaths are preventable through comprehensive health service systems, for instance.

In Finland, perinatal and suckling infant mortality are among the lowest in the world. For this reason, Finland's maternity and child clinic services and maternity packages are often used internationally as models for investments into the health of expecting mothers and child health and well-being.


Further information:

Ms Satu Leino, Senior Officer, tel. +358 2951 63428