Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Birth rights

In Angola, nearly one in every five infants is dying. In the US, roughly three in every 500 infants die. In Singapore, the figure is closer to one in every 500. That the world's best infant mortality rate is 100 times better than the world's worst, is not only an indictment on a topsy-turvy set of global priorities; it's also a call to action.

But what can we do? It's hard to get the necessary technology to the people who need it the most.

Well, it turns out that it's not all about technology. A recent study conducted in Pakistan - where newborn deaths account for over half of all deaths under five years of age - demonstrated that newborn care counseling alone, accounted for a 15 percent decline in newborn mortality and a 21 percent reduction in the stillbirth rate.

In an article that highlights this study, Melinda Gates mentions her own experience in India (a country in which over a million kids under one month old die annually), where similar interventions cut newborn mortality rates in half. Here she is talking about it:

And to be fair, things are improving in Angola, as well:

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