New Born Plan is Good for Vulnerable Mothers and Babies

Newborn Baby Plan

Achievement Center for Youth and Children of Liberia’s response to UNICEF recent report on Ending New Born Deaths in Liberia.

Monrovia – March 8, 2014. For the past 102 years today, several million people around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day aimed at achieving women’s equality – social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing global attention on areas requiring further action.

Today, as Liberian celebrate the International Women’s Day, Achievement Center for Youth and Children of Liberia, a local non-profit and nongovernmental grassroots membership- based child rights and community empowerment organization pledges its profound support to UNICEF on the recent launch of the report: Ending New Born Deaths – ensuring that every child in Liberia enjoy the right to life during delivery thereby reducing the high rate of maternal mortality.

This year, it appears that some progress has been made.  In Liberia’s recent past, we made some improvements in areas of immunization, treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, family planning and nutrition.

According to this report, mortality rate of children under-five has fallen by 70% from 219/1,000 live births in 1990 to 75 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. This is commendable and highly welcomed. Despite this effort, declines in neonatal mortality have lagged behind, reducing by just 2.2% per year to 27 deaths per 1,000 live births. In addition, 27 in every 1,000 total births are stillborn.

This 2014, International Women’s Day will share its 103rd birthday with more than 120 million children who are also turning five this year.  We would like to encourage everyone including healthcare institutions and facilities, child rights and civil society NGOs to join in this 103rd birthday celebration and promote UNICEF campaign on reducing maternal mortality.

An adolescent expectant mother, Beatrice (Name withheld), in River Gee County suffered complications and died in child birth. Beatrice mother said “I am not sure I can bear this lost, because my daughter had a lot of potential to help make life better for our family, now she is no more.” There are many like Beatrice who continues to suffer at the hands of preventable causes of new born deaths resulting from complications of child birth and pregnancy – related injuries, infections, disease, and disabilities. Of the causes of maternal death, unavailable, inaccessible, unacceptable or poor quality healthcare services are primarily responsible. These deaths would have been averted if the women had access to essential maternal and basic healthcare services.

In support of UNICEF’s campaign, we will also be celebrating virtually through facebook and twitter. Tweeter users will be provided a hashtag. Also, we will be raising awareness of the importance of Ending New Born Deaths with a number of women groups in Clara Town – a slum community outside of Monrovia.

Several fun filled activities, including interactive games to educate adolescent girls and mothers about infection and others would allow them to engage with each other through interactive discussions. Activities will include kangaroo mother care for preterm and low birth weight babies and home visits.

Finally, Achievement Center for Youth and Children of Liberia wishes to thank the Liberian authorities and UNICEF for their effort on the road to achieving MDGs 4 and 5 in the country. However, we call upon the government to immediately begin drafting the New Born Plan recommended by the Working Group to increase access to essential life-saving care for mothers and babies who are most vulnerable. This would require for an example, increasing WHO minimal requirements for doctors, mid-wives and nurses.

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