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Improving Newborn Survival: Saving the Lives of 3 Million


Every year, one million babies die on the day they are born and nearly two million more die within their first month. In addition, 2.6 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 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 43% of the 19,000 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.

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.

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 survival rates by two thirds by 2015 – the mandate of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4.

Explore Our Programs

Saving Newborn Lives Maternal & Child Health Helping Babies Breathe

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.

Ten years ago, newborn survival was rarely mentioned as a key factor in reducing the deaths of children under 5. Today, as the result of the work of Save the Children and many partners, developing countries are accelerating efforts to save the lives of newborns and their mothers. 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 it strongly supports a new global newborn action plan to be unveiled at the World Health Assembly in May 2014.

Read more about the Saving Newborn Lives program.

Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP):

As a partner on USAID’s flagship program for maternal and child health, Save the Children serves as the lead partner agency for newborn health. MCHIP works with USAID missions, governments, non-governmental organization, local communities, and partner agencies in developing countries to implement programs for sustainable improvements in maternal and child health. MCHIP supports accelerated and sustainable improvements to neonatal health by scaling up evidence-based, high-impact interventions integrated wherever appropriate with maternal health interventions. To date, MCHIP has played a catalytic role in the introduction and/or scale up of proven newborn health interventions in over 30 countries globally. Visit for more information.

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.

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.
  • Jointhe 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.
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