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152m babies born preterm in a decade – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health experts are calling for increased investments and quality care to improve the well being of women and newborns as well as mitigate risks from preterm births.

According to the World Health Organisation 152 million babies were born preterm in the last decade, and of every 10 babies born, 1 is preterm while every 40 seconds, 1 of those babies dies.

The United Nations report estimated 13.4 million babies born premature in 2020, with nearly a million dying from pre-term complications.

Preterm birth rates have not changed in the past decade in any region of the world, and the impacts of conflict, climate change, COVID-19 are increasing risks for women and babies everywhere.

The report produced by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO), with its Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), outlines strategies to address the phenomenon.

Director for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, Dr Anshu Banerjee, during the launch of the BORN TOO SOON REPORT said, ensuring quality care for these most vulnerable babies and their families is absolutely imperative for improving child health and survival.

Dr Banerjee, maintained that Progress must advance in prevention, ensuring that every woman access quality health services before and during pregnancy to identify and mitigate risks

Director of Health at UNICEF, Steven Lauwerier, expressed worry stressing that every preterm death, created “a trail of loss and heartbreak, despite the many advances the world has made in the past decade.

The Executive Director, PMNCH Helga Fogstad, highlighted that the report which is tagged “Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth : underlines need for increasing investment and accountability for preterm birth.

“Beyond investment, there is need for more smarter equipment, social protection, training for health care providers and access to education, all of this will guarantee safety of babies and families”

Analysis of the report tagged Born too soon: Decade of action on preterm birth, the “silent emergency” that is claiming one million tiny lives born premature yearly requires concerted action to swiftly improve children’s health and survival.

Health experts, however, said about 95 per cent of deaths during childbirth are preventable

Reporting by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare