One of the major setbacks Africa is still experiencing is neonatal deaths and stillbirth.

This is largely attributed to the lack of quality health care systems in major African countries.

In addition to this, most of these deaths are either under recorded or unreported at all.

Citing this problem, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have come together to provide three new publications addressing the need for classification, review and investigation of these deaths in order to properly tackle this menace in Africa.

According to the UN health agency, 2.7 million babies die within the first month of life, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and over 300,000 women die in childbirth every year.

“We need to ensure all births and deaths are counted, and that we can understand what to do to prevent future deaths, no matter where they occur,” Ian Askew, Director of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, said in a press briefing in Geneva.

Nearly all the cases of stillbirth and new-born deaths are not recorded in hospitals in this part of the world making it difficult to classify and investigate the cause(s) of these deaths.

“By reviewing the causes of maternal and infant deaths countries can improve quality of healthcare, take corrective actions, and prevent millions of families from losing their infants or mothers,” Askew said.

The first publication, the WHO Application of the International Classification of Disease-10 to deaths during the prenatal period (ICD-PM) is designed to capture and classify the causes and timing of stillbirths and neonatal deaths, as well as mother’s health condition.

Entitled Making Every Baby Count: Audit and Review of Stillbirths and Neonatal Deaths, the second publication centres on the review and investigation of the death data in order to identify and implement solutions to improve the situation.

Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia are the most affected regions, primarily because of weak health systems, according to Mr. Askew.

Despite recent progress in preventing maternal deaths, much work remains to be done.

Therefore, the third publication, “Time to respond: a report on the global implementation of maternal death surveillance and response” helps countries reinforce their maternal mortality review process.

“Every time a death is reviewed, it has the potential to tell a story about what could have been done to save a mother and her baby,” said Dr. Anthony Costello, Director of Maternal, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health at WHO.

“Most stillbirths, maternal and neonatal deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, especially in conflict zones,” he said.

Meanwhile, WHO is participating in a global multi-partner effort to improve the quality of health information, including data on maternal and child health.

Source: Big News Network website.


Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.