We’ve been hearing a lot of bleak news regarding the global economic crisis. Perhaps this recent update from the World Bank is the bleakest yet. According to the report, the crisis will cause child mortality rates to soar in developing countries; in fact, it predicts that between 2009 to 2015, an average 200,000 to 400,000 more babies may die per year—a total of 1.4 to 2.8 million—if the crisis persists.
It’s hard to find anything optimistic to say; one can only hope that developed countries will respond and contribute to the Vulnerability Fund that World Bank President Zoellick is calling for, and help prevent the financial crisis from becoming a human one.
Both infant and maternal mortality are largely preventable, if the right measures are in place. UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report focuses on maternal and newborn health this year, and states that good reproductive health services, skilled health workers assisting at birth, adequate nutrition, and educating mothers about healthy practices can all make a huge difference.
According to the report, “around 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to essential maternity and basic health-care services.” And infections, which cause 36% of newborn deaths, could be reduced with better screening and immunization, and hygienic delivery practices.
Empowering girls and women can have a huge impact too. Educated adolescents are more likely to wait until after their teens to start families, and this delay is often critical: complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a major cause of mortality for girls aged 15-19 worldwide, accounting for 70,000 deaths annually.
This video from UNICEF portrays the report’s main findings regarding maternal and newborn health.