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Sub-Saharan Africa is riskiest place for newborns say UNICEF

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Eight out of the 10 most dangerous places to newborns are in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new report by UNICEF.

Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, according to the new report on newborn mortality released on Tuesday.

The report put the Central African Republic as the second riskiest country to babies in the world after Pakistan and the most dangerous place to newborns in Africa.

Newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds, said the report.

The Central African Republic, Somalia, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Chad are the eight most dangerous African countries where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions.

If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved, noted the report.

"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," said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director.

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

Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report said.

In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.

More than 80 percent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, the report said.

The report said the deaths could be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition.


Islamic organ urges to safeguard children in conflict-ridden areas

RABAT Morocco (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) urged Wednesday for stronger action to ensure the safety of children in conflict-ridden areas.

Director General of the ISESCO Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri said so here at the Fifth Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood, which kicked off Wednesday.

The aggravating sufferings of children in places such as in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Afghanistan call for a collective supportive initiative, said Altwaijri.

The ISESCO director also maintained that the internationally-recognized rights of Palestinian children are "constantly violated by the brutal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories."

He called for more efficient and coordinated actions by Islamic countries to address violence, child labor, exploitation, ill-treatment, discrimination, as well as securing quality health and social services, and other basic needs of children, which are quintessentially legitimate rights.

"It is time to translate words into actions, shift from slogans to concrete results, and move from unsupported goodwill to effective and influential resolutions, in service of childhood and in response to its expectations," he said.

The two-day conference brings together ministers and representatives from ISESCO member states as well as representatives of regional and international governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with childhood issues.

The conference is part of a series of specialized Islamic conferences held by the ISESCO in coordination with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and parties in the hosting countries.

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