Cape Town — Despite a significant reduction in child deaths around the globe, a new report released today shows that the health of newborn babies has been largely overlooked.

A report published by Save the Children says sub-Saharan Africa has reduced deaths among children in the first month of life by a negligible 1.5 percent from 2000 to 2010, a small improvement on the 0.6% reduction between 1990 and 2000. The region has made the least progress worldwide in cutting deaths among newborns.

The authors of the report say that unless improvements are accelerated, it will be more than 150 years before African babies have the same chance of survival as those born in the United States and Europe.

Worldwide, the number of deaths of children up to the age of five has dropped from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But from 2000 to 2010 the number of newborns who died before they were one month old dropped only slightly, from 3.7 million to 3.1 million.

Entitled, “A Decade of Change for Newborn Survival – Changing the Trajectory for our Future”, the report notes that a handful of African states has made rapid progress in improving the chances of infant survival. Tanzania and Malawi reduced their infant mortality rate by more than a quarter, while Rwanda and Namibia reduced the number of infant deaths by more than 30 percent, and Botswana by almost 40 percent.  Read more…