Each year twelve million mothers eagerly await the first cries of their newborns in the LAC region, but almost 200,000 of these newborn lives end within 28 days of their first breath.
However, statistics show that while the infant mortality rate has been falling in the region in recent years, the newborn mortality rate has remained almost unaltered over the last 10 years. The neonatal mortality ratio in the region is double for the poorest quintile than for the richest.
Common direct causes that contribute to newborn death include neonatal infections, birth asphyxia, and complications of prematurity. Most of the deaths due to these causes are preventable. Low birth weight newborns are especially vulnerable, comprising 60-90% of newborn deaths. Many newborn deaths are related to conditions of the mother such as education, status, young age, older age, malnutrition, short birth interval, sexually transmitted infections, along with complications of pregnancy.
Lack of quality health care for mothers and newborns focused antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and early postnatal care is a major contributor to newborn deaths, especially in low-resourced areas.
While simple but effective strategies exist to address the specific causes of newborn death, policies and programs in the LAC region still fail to provide proven interventions to save newborn lives.
To address this gap, the Latin America and Caribbean Newborn Health Alliance was created as an interagency group to promote newborn health within a Reproductive, Maternal, and Child Health continuum. The group promotes evidence-based policies and programmatic interventions at the facility and community levels.
The Alliance was formed in 2005 as a partnership between international agencies and programs working to reduce newborn mortality in the LAC region, including experts from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Childhood Fund (UNICEF), the CORE Group, Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives (SNL), the USAID-funded ACCESS (Access to Clinical and Community Maternal, Neonatal, and Women’s Health Services), BASICS (Basic Support for Institutionalizing Child Survival), Plan USA, MCHIP (Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program) and the Health Care Improvement projects and other interested partners.
The LAC Alliance supports countries in their efforts to reduce newborn morbidity and mortality in the LAC region by promoting the sharing of information and experiences at the local, national and regional levels; supporting the dissemination of cost-effective, evidence-based interventions; providing technical support for the region; and advocating for the newborn and the mother by actively participating in regional and international meetings and forums.