Every year, 30 million newborn’s born to soon or to small are at risk for death and disability. Globally, we are still far from reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of neonatal mortality of 12/1000 live births by 2030. An estimated 2.5 million newborn’s die within the neonatal period and a further estimated one million small and sick newborn’s survives with long-term adverse sequela such as disability. These disabilities place a financial, psychological and social burden on families, communities and countries.

Every newborn has the right to survive and thrive, and hence UNICEF and the WHO brought out the following report: Survive & Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn. It focuses on inpatient care of the small, sick and vulnerable newborn. This report highlights the need for accurate and reliable data to provide guidance in terms of planning, outcomes measures and the impact of health care.

Key messages are:

Surviving. More than 2.5 million babies died in 2017 from preventable causes, most notably prematurity, complications around the time of birth, infections and congenital conditions. Some died because the care they received was of poor quality; others because they received no health care at all. In order to meet the SDG 3.2 target for newborn and child survival, countries need to transform newborn care.

Thriving. Every year, 30 million newborns require specialized or intensive care in a hospital; those who survive often do so with preventable conditions and disabilities that will affect them for life. These newborns can and will thrive as productive members of our societies, provided they are given high-quality inpatient care at the right time and in the right place, including follow-up care.

Transforming. Cost–effective solutions exist for the main causes of neonatal death and disability. In line with the drive to achieve UHC, there must be innovation, people centred care, locally designed technologies, financial protection, and parent power and partnership. Ensuring the recruitment, training and retention of skilled nurses is particularly crucial. Social norms also need to be transformed: neonatal mortality should not be considered inevitable.

Investing fairly. 1.7 million newborn lives could be saved each year by investing in access to quality care for every newborn, everywhere, including in humanitarian settings. While essential newborn care would benefit small and sick newborns, adding special and intensive care services for them would reduce neonatal mortality by almost 50%. It would also promote child development and foster economic productivity.

Counting. Accelerating change requires improving routine collection of data, with a stronger focus on coverage, quality and outcomes. Existing data need to be better used

The provision of continuous quality care and universal health coverage is key in working towards achieving the SDG targets. We need to ensure that our vulnerable newborn’s, not only survive but also thrive to become the best adults they can possibly be.

Find the links to this fantastic report based on research and evidence below.

Full report:


Key findings:


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