UNICEF says 'the world is failing' newborn babies in poorest countries

Figures show that the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births in low-income countries

UNICEF says 'the world is failing' newborn babies in poorest countries

Image ©UNICEF / Anonymous

The UN children's agency, UNICEF, says the world is failing newborn babies.

The agency is reporting that infant mortality around the world remains alarmingly high - especially in low-income countries. 

New figures released by the organisation show an average rate of three infant deaths per 1,000 in high-income countries increases dramatically to 27 deaths per 1,000 in poorer countries.

Pakistan had the highest newborn mortality rate, at 1 in 22, followed by the Central African Republic (1 in 24) and Afghanistan (1 in 25).

The lowest mortality rates, meanwhile, were recorded in Japan (1 in 1,111), Iceland (1 in 1,000) and Singapore (1 in 909).

Ireland's rate is around 1 in 455 - the same rate seen in countries such as Austria, Belgium and Australia. 

Henrietta H Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said: “While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old.

“Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.”

According to UNICEF, 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa - with the organisation explaining pregnant women in those countries are less likely to receive help during delivery as a result of conflict, poverty and weak institutions.

It also estimates that 16 million lives could be saved if every country in the world brought down their infant mortality rate to the high-income average.