Kenya has highest newborn death rate, says report
Updated Wednesday, May 8th 2013 a 19:25 GMT +3
By Ally Jamah

Kenya falls among the last 20 countries that have some of the highest newborn death rates in the world, according to Save the Children’s 2013 State of the World’s Mothers report. The report, ranks Kenya at the 156th position in the Mother’s Ranking Index, featuring 176 countries.

Save the Children’s Country Director, Kenya Duncan Harvey said: “African governments and the international community are working together to end preventable child deaths, but if we are to reach this historic goal, it will require unprecedented focus on saving babies in their first day and month of life.” For the first time ever, the State of the World’s Mothers report features a Birth Day Risk Index, painting grim statistics across Sub-Saharan Africa as the most dangerous region to be born: a baby in Somalia, for example is 40 times more likely to die on its first day than one born in Luxembourg.

Globally, one million babies die each year on the day they enter the world – or two every minute - making the first day by far the riskiest day of a person’s life in almost every country in the world.

The report identified key factors contributing to these high levels of newborn deaths in Africa. These include high rates of premature birth – Malawi has the highest rate of babies born early – as well as many babies born too small. More than a third of babies in Mauritania are underweight. Other factors include the poor health of mothers, early marriage before girls’ bodies have properly matured, low rates of contraceptive usage and healthcare, that the report says is ‘woefully insufficient’. A severe shortage of health workers in many countries, combined with the long distances many women have to travel in order to find medical attention, results in only half of all women across Sub-Saharan Africa actually receiving skilled care during birth at all.