Latest stories

Press releases & statements


World Prematurity Day Highlights Effective, Low-Cost Care for Saving Preterm Babies in the Pacific

© UNICEF Pacific/2014/Kolinisau
World Premature Day celebrations at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital Suva, Fiji

SUVA, 17 November 2014 – With preterm birth complications contributing 36% of neonatal deaths recorded, the Pacific is observing World Prematurity Day today to show its commitment to reduce prematurity and premature babies. 

World Prematurity Day is part of a global effort, the Every Woman Every Child, to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity. Yet two thirds of preterm and newborn deaths could be saved without high technology care through simple, proven and effective measures. 

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Health and Nutrition, Dr. Naawa Sipilanyambe, said “In the Pacific, according to official figures in 2012, 60% of children died before their fifth birthday mainly due to preventable causes such as Pneumonia, Diarrhoea and Newborn deaths. Newborn deaths make up on average 40% of deaths recorded for children under 5 years of age.

“This is a concern to UNICEF because these deaths are preventable and countries can reach the MDG target (4) of reducing child mortality by investing in proven strategies to further reduce under-five child mortality,” she added. The Pacific Region has made significant strides in reducing under five mortality rate, however, the last mile is in tackling neonatal mortality and infectious diseases. 

Preterm deaths can be reduced through family planning, increased empowerment of women, especially adolescents, plus improved quality of care before, between and during pregnancy.

Dr. Sipilanyambe said “These lives could be saved with vaccines, adequate nutrition and basic medical and maternal care. The challenge is to make these available to every child.”

“Governments in the Pacific have committed to A Promise Renewed which is a pledge made by more than 100 countries to prioritize child survival. These countries are taking action to remind the world that knowledge and technology are available to help reduce preventable child deaths,” she added.

“Every child should be given the opportunity to survive and thrive,” she said.

About UNICEF: 

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 more information, please contact Donna Hoerder, UNICEF on (679) 3236 100 or




 Email this article

unite for children