KAMPALA-- Uganda is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa making significant progress in reducing child mortality, according to a new report from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

The report, entitled, "Every child alive: the urgent need to end newborn deaths, 2018", analyzes progress made by countries globally in reducing infant mortality.

Uganda was second best in East Africa with 21 newborn deaths per 1,000 births during their first month, followed by Tanzania, with 21.7, Kenya 23, Burundi 24 and South Sudan 38. Rwanda was ranked best in East Africa, and was the only country in the region to be ranked among the top 10 nations with the lowest new-born deaths.

From a high of 41 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990, Rwanda has cut that number by more than half to 16 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016. Rwanda's success has been attributed to political will and investments in strong health systems which prioritise babies born in the poorest and most marginalised areas.

The Unicef report shows that babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic (CAF) and Afghanistan face the worst odds.

According to the report, new-born deaths were primarily caused by prematurity, complications at birth and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.

Each of these deaths is a tragedy, especially because the vast majority are preventable. More than 80 per cent of new-born deaths are the result of premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. Similar causes, particularly complications during labour, account for a large share of stillbirths, the report says.



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