Health & Nutrition

Key Issues

Neo-natal care


Prevention of Childhood Disabilities


Neo-natal care

© UNICEF Azerbaijan/Pirozzi/2008

The challenges to survival in the first few hours of life (especially of a prematurely born baby) are legion, but timely coordinated efforts can be effective. In a related instance, maternal mortality rates spiked dramatically in the first half of the past decade. But thanks to better information and training of professionals the rates have declined. Overall, child mortality is down from the levels of the Soviet period, but still remains high. Even a little investment can make significant improvements. Still, this remains one of the most serious issues facing Azerbaijan today, and every two hours a baby dies because of inadequate health care and social services. Neo-natal deaths (those in the first month of life) account for 80 per cent of the total of deaths for the nation’s children under the age of five. By comparison, the global average is around 40 per cent. Azerbaijan’s perilous situation is due in part to the low qualifications among medical professionals. Improving these standards and skills during the baby’s delivery is the key, and training made possible with support from UNICEF helps to achieve this. UNICEF is also working with the Ministry of Health to introduce “supportive supervision” – a concept whereby health workers are supervised in a problem-solving manner (if there is a problem, supervisor and supervisee work out the best solution) rather than punitive manner, which is another Soviet legacy. The proper and accurate compiling of data and statistics is another crucial task. Azerbaijan still uses a Soviet-era definition of what constitutes a live birth, in which a baby is not counted as being alive (unless they survive 7 days) if born under 1,000g weight or before 28 weeks of pregnancy. However, since 2007 UNICEF has been working with the government to make the transition to an international live birth definition, which entails considerable investment in equipment and expertise to help these most vulnerable of little babies. Baku’s Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and its maternity ward is an example of positive change facilitated by UNICEF assistance. As modern methods and standards have been implemented, the ward has quickly gained a reputation for quality and well-trained and competent doctors. Here, women of all means can count on a proper delivery in a safe and friendly environment.



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