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About SickKids

May 20, 2014

SickKids researcher leads Lancet Series analysis to save newborn lives and receives WHO award for contribution to global family health

SickKids global child health expert Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta is a lead author in the first comprehensive analysis in nearly a decade of the evidence for interventions to prevent newborn deaths. 

Centre for Global Child Health

Published today in The Lancet as part of its Every Newborn Series, the analysis suggests that the lives of nearly three million mothers and babies could be saved every year if available methods to improve newborn health care were scaled up to at least 90 per cent coverage in all countries. Two million lives could be saved simply by ensuring that for all births occurring in health-care facilities, women and babies receive effective, high-quality care – underlining the urgency and potentially high impact of improving quality of care at birth.

Led by Bhutta and Professor Joy Lawn, Director of the MARCH Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, and Save the Children, in collaboration with 55 global health experts, researchers, and policymakers from 27 institutions in 18 countries, the series examines the latest evidence for health interventions to prevent newborn and maternal deaths, estimates their potential for saving lives, and evaluates the investment required to scale up the most effective interventions to nearly universal coverage.

“Although the costs of radically scaling up health care for mothers and their babies may be substantial, the potential impact of this investment is enormous,” said Bhutta, Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health and Director of Research at the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health. “The integration and further scale up of these interventions in health systems will bring benefit for women, babies, development outcomes and economic capital – a triple or even quadruple return on investment.  No country can afford to ignore this case for investment and opportunity to significantly impact survival and health for every newborn and for future generations.”

Interventions examined involve the provision of integrated care for mothers before birth, and quality care for both mother and baby at the time of birth, including access to basic and emergency obstetric care.  Essential aspects of newborn care include ensuring that both mother and baby have access to adequate nutrition and infection control, and small and ill newborn babies have access to timely specialist care.

Findings from The Lancet Every Newborn Series present the clearest picture to date of a newborn’s chance of survival and the steps that must be taken to end preventable deaths in babies and society’s acceptance of these deaths.  

Bhutta will be in Geneva this week to help launch the Lancet Series while attending the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA).

While at WHA, Bhutta will also be presented with the World Health Organization (WHO) Ihsan Dogramaci Global Award for contributions to family health globally.

To access the full series paper “Every Newborn 3: Can available interventions end preventable deaths in mothers, newborn babies, and stillbirths, and at what cost?” please visit: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60792-3/abstract

To access the full the Lancet Every Newborn series, please visit: http://www.thelancet.com/series/everynewborn