Newborn Health

Improving Newborn Survival: Saving the Lives of 3 Million

The first 24 hours of a child’s life are the most dangerous, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to new research published by Save the Children.

The first 24 hours of a child’s life are the most dangerous, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first and only day of life, according to new research published by Save the Children.

Newborn Health Matters

  • Among all children, newborns have the highest risk of death.
  • Three preventable and treatable conditions are taking the lives of millions of newborns each year.
  • More than three-quarters of the world's newborn deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • There is substantial evidence that up to two-thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if mothers and newborns receive cost-effective, low-tech care.

Every year, one million babies die on the day they are born and nearly two million more die within their first month. In addition, 2.8 million babies are born stillborn each year.

In many communities around the world, newborn deaths are so commonplace that children are not even named until they survive their first month of life – the neonatal, or newborn, period.

The day a child is born should be a time of joy, yet it is the first days of life that carry the highest risk of death for both mothers and their newborns. Newborns now account for more than 44% of the 18,000 children under age five dying every day.

Globally, four out of five newborn deaths result from three preventable and treatable conditions: preterm birth; infections; and complications during childbirth including asphyxia.

The good news is there are proven solutions. High-impact and cost-effective interventions, ranging from easy-to-apply antibiotics to ensuring warmth and initiating breast-feeding at birth, have the potential to reduce these deaths, and many of these interventions can be taken to scale.

Since 2000, thanks to joint efforts by multiple national and global stakeholders, low-income countries have begun to bend the curve for newborn survival. Many nations recognize that focusing on newborn survival is critically important if they are to succeed in achieving the United Nations' ambitious goal of reducing 1990 child mortality rates by two thirds by 2015 – the mandate of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4.

The Saving Newborn Lives Program

Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a globally recognized leader in newborn health and a respected voice in countries. Since 2000 SNL has worked to reach the world's most vulnerable newborns and help them survive their first month of life.

SNL seeks to achieve equitable and effective coverage of high-impact newborn services and practices institutionalized at scale. By working with governments and partners to put newborn health on global and national agendas, SNL serves as a catalyst for action.

To accomplish its goals, the SNL program works to develop, apply, document, and sustain packages of effective evidence-based newborn care services and practices at scale. In addition, the program advocates to increase availability of and access to routine and emergency newborn care services and supplies, to improve the quality of newborn care services, and to increase knowledge about and demand for newborn care.

Ensuring that quality programs reach mothers and newborns requires commitments and actions by multiple partners at national, regional and global levels. Working alongside valued partners, ministries of health, and national stakeholders, SNL provides technical leadership, advocacy, and measurement support. The program works to maintain a cycle of evidence generation, consensus building, policy formulation and guidance, and program implementation and learning.

Save the Children's SNL program established and supports the Healthy Newborn Network (HNN), an online community dedicated to addressing critical knowledge gaps in newborn health. HNN is a platform for organizations and professionals to exchange experiences; disseminate information; and increase coordination, collaboration and co-generation of knowledge to advance newborn health.

Save the Children has played a key role in encouraging countries to take these steps. For example, the agency helped organize the first-ever global summit on newborn survival in April 2013 in Johannesburg and strongly supports the Every Newborn Action Plan, which provides countries and the international community with a joint action platform for the reduction of preventable newborn deaths. Every Newborn takes forward the United Nations Secretary General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health by focusing specific attention on newborn health and identifying actions for improving their survival, health and development.

Read more about the Saving Newborn Lives program.

Back to Explore Our Programs

Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP):

MCHIP: Since 2008, the USAID Bureau for Global Health’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) has worked in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to improve the health of women and their families. Building upon multiple global awards including USAID's previous flagship maternal and newborn health project, ACCESS (Read more), which concluded in December 2009, MCHIP supported programming in maternal, newborn and child health, immunization, family planning, nutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS, and encouraged opportunities for integration of programs and services when feasible. MCHIP addressed the barriers to accessing and using key evidence-based interventions across the life stages—from pre-pregnancy to age five—by linking communities, primary health facilities and hospitals. By helping countries identify and focus on those innovations that have been proven to save lives, MCHIP supported delivery of evidence-based interventions through strengthening government health systems, nongovernmental organizations and other local partners. (Read more)

MCSP: In June 2014, USAID announced MCHIP’s successor program, the Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP). Carrying forward the momentum and lessons learned from MCHIP, MCSP will introduce and support high-impact health interventions in USAID’s 24 priority countries with the ultimate goal of contributing to USAID’s efforts to ending preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation. MCSP supports programming in maternal, newborn and child health, immunization, family planning and reproductive health, nutrition, health systems strengthening, water/sanitation/hygiene, malaria, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and pediatric HIV care and treatment. The Program engages governments, policymakers, private sector leaders, healthcare providers, civil society, faith-based organizations and communities in adopting and accelerating proven approaches to address the major causes of maternal, newborn and child mortality, and improve the quality of health services from household to hospital. The Program will tackle these issues through approaches that also focus on health systems strengthening, household and community mobilization, gender integration and eHealth, among others.

To read more about this flagship program working to end preventable child and maternal deaths, please visit:

Back to Explore Our Programs

Helping Babies Breathe (HBB):

Since 2010 Save the Children has been a partner in the HBB Global Development Alliance (GDA), a public-private partnership that seeks to improve care for newborns who suffer from birth asphyxia by rolling out a training curriculum globally. Developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), HBB takes a competency-based, pair-learning training approach to teach the essential skills of neonatal resuscitation to health workers in resource-limited areas. The GDA seeks not only to train service providers but also to work with ministries of health and their implementing partners to provide functional resuscitation equipment (notably a high-quality, low-cost manikin and associated equipment for training and practice of newborn resuscitation) for all health facilities where babies are delivered. Visit to learn more about the HBB curriculum.

Back to Explore Our Programs

How you can get involved:

  • Find out more about why newborns are dying and what simple and affordable solutions can save newborn lives.
  • Read more about our work in newborn health.
  • Browse selected SNL publications.
  • Sign up for NewbornNews, delivering the latest in newborn health directly to your inbox.
  • Join the Healthy Newborn Network and browse through resources, blogs, events, multimedia and more.
  • Join our Newborn and Child Survival Campaign and donate to Save the Children's Newborn and Child Survival programs around the world.
Twitter Facebook Pinterest Google+ More