Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2022. 4:12 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: February has 28 days clear (and 29 in each leap year); but by the time the calendar turns to March, 7,140 babies less than a month old will not have lived to see their first month of life on Earth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Latin American Center for Perinatology (CLAP in Spanish), part of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), believes this is preventable and reversible. Today it launched the “28 Days, Time to Care and Love” campaign to raise awareness and promote quality care for newborns during the first 28 days of life – the time during which the risk of infant mortality is highest.
PAHO aims to teach new mothers, fathers, and their family support as well as health professionals of the importance of good care practices to reduce neonatal mortality, including but not limited to skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding, keeping the umbilical cord clean and dry, and administering vitamin K at birth.
Across Latin America and the Caribbean, an average of seven of every 1,000 infants or 255 per day, fail to reach their one-month birthday. This rate varies from 1.7 infants in Aruba and 2.3 in Cuba, to 18 in the Dominican Republic and 32 in Haiti (Belize in 2019 averaged eight, down from 34 in 1970). Most of these deaths are preventable yet account for nearly half of all deaths during the first year of life.
“Universal access to timely and quality care for mothers and newborns, as well as family involvement in the care of infants, are critical for babies to survive and thrive,” stated Dr. Pablo Durán, PAHO’s regional advisor on perinatal health.
As part of the campaign, PAHO will share 28 key messages and testimonies related to newborn care every day throughout the month of February.
PAHO will also launch an app with guidance on infant care for parents, families, caregivers, and health workers, as well as a ten-step document for decision-makers to facilitate the development of policies to improve newborn health in the Americas.
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