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Malawi, 20 February 2018: Making positive strides in saving newborn lives, but more needs to be done

LILONGWE, Malawi, 20 February 2018 – Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly the world's poorest countries like Malawi, UNICEF said today in a new report, Every Child ALIVE. Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds.

“Malawi has made a lot of progress to reduce the under-five mortality rate to a level beyond the 2015 target of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Johannes Wedenig, Representative, UNICEF Malawi. “However progress on newborn morality has been slower than for under-fives, and more remains to be done. A shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands of newborns do not receive the life-saving support they need to survive.”

The Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS) of 2015-2026 shows that under five child mortality in the period before the 2015-16, was at 67 per1000 live births. This was a reduction at an average rate of more than 7 per cent per year between 1990 and 2015. There was also a significant reduction in newborn mortality. It reduces at a rate of 3.5 per cent per year on average, and reached 27 per1000 live births by 2016.

This reduction in child hood deaths was due to the high rate of coverage of high impact preventive and curative health interventions including ante natal and delivery care, immunization, distribution of insecticide treated nets and prevention and treatment of common infectious diseases.

Despite this progress, 1 out of every 37 children in Malawi still dies in the first month of life. 80 per cent of these deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, says the UNICEF report. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, access to clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, skin-to-skin contact, good nutrition and basic care.

Today, UNICEF is launching Every Child ALIVE, a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s children, starting with newborns. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:

  • recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives and community health workers with expertise in maternal and newborn care;
  • guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;
  • making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and
  • empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.

“Because the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly we are failing too many of our newborns,” said Johannes Wedenig. “Most of these babies could be saved with affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn child.”

For full ranking of all countries, click here.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

For further information, please contact:
Naomi Kalemba, Communication Officer, UNICEF Malawi +265 995 960 144,



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