Dengue website of Punjab gets 67,800 hits

Dengue website of Punjab gets 67,800 hits

LAHORE: Around 67,800 people have visited the website about dengue that was launched by the LGH administration to sensitise public about preventive measures against the disease, and this number is increasing continuously. Post Graduate Medical Institute and Lahore General Hospital Principal Prof Anjum Habib Vohra said that the website has proved to be very useful for the citizens as they have fully utilized it to remain up to dated and sensitised about the changing weather in connection with dengue and adaptation of preventive measures against this menace. He said that the dengue awareness website has been also very effective as it is in Urdu language so that everyone could get guidance and medical help from it. He further said that keeping in view the success of this website, the LGH administration is planning to launch web pages about other diseases and seasonal ailments as well so that people could also get assistance and consultancy about them while remaining at their homes. He said that LGH is play significant role fighting dengue and other diseases in collaboration with Punjab Government and Punjab Health Department. Maximum awareness about dengue is being provided to patients and their attendants at hospital level, he added. He stressed all the segments of life to focus on cleanliness in their residential areas and play their due role to combat diseases including dengue.

All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) condemns stoning of pregnant woman

All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) condemns stoning of pregnant woman

LAHORE: The All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) has strongly condemned the stoning of pregnant woman, Farzana, outside the Lahore High Court (LHC) on May 27.
In a statement on Saturday, the executive committee of APWA’s Punjab chapter urged the Punjab government to take exemplary steps against the culprits as well as police officers concerned. It said that the terrorist attack on a woman under the nose of the highest forum for dispensation of justice was extremely “gruesome, appalling and deplorable.”
It further said that failure of the police present at the scene showed apathy of the law-enforcing agencies against perpetrators of violence against women.
It blamed gender hostile and unconstitutional statements of bodies like the Council of Islamic Ideology, which directly targeted women’s fundamental rights and caused escalation of terrorism against women.

Saida Waheed College of Nursing (SWCON) of FMH observes Nurses Day

Saida Waheed College of Nursing (SWCON) of FMH observes Nurses Day

LAHORE: The Saida Waheed College of Nursing (SWCON) observed International Nurses Day 2014 at General Attiqueur Rehman Auditorium of Fatima Memorial Hospital (FHM) by organising a ceremony on Friday that highlighted the services nurses provide across the globe. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has been observing the day since 1965. Theme for this year’s day was ‘Nurses: A Force for Change – A Vital Resource for Health.’ Nursing students highlighted services of Florence Nightingale through a presentation and dramatic representation. Later, tribute was paid to the late Nisab Akhtar, former SWCON director of nursing, who passed away in 2013. Punjab Nursing Director General Rukhsana Kamal, Fatima Memorial System Executive Committee Chairman Shahima Rehman, FMH College of Medicine and Dentistry Principal Prof Dr Humayun Maqsood, and SWCON Director of Nursing Mrs Irshad Javed attended the ceremony. The ceremony serves as a platform to encourage nursing professionals at national level to share their views and ideas for the development of the field. It also highlights achievements of the students of SWCON while praising their hard work and dedication for this profession.

Medical graduates returning from Cuba land in miseries

Medical graduates returning from Cuba land in miseries

LAHORE: About 300 of 1,000 Pakistani students, who were studying general comprehensive medicine on HEC (Higher Education Commission) scholarships in Cuba, are facing financial constraints along with huge depression because of joblessness despite completing six-year MD (Doctor in Medicine) degrees.
After the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, Cuba had not only sent 2,500 medical and paramedical staff to take part in relief efforts, it had also offered scholarships for 1,000 students from across Pakistan, especially from northern areas, which were affected by the earthquake, to study medicine in Cuban institutions.
The scholars were expected to serve their country after completing their studies. The government of Pakistan accepted this generous offer and the HEC invited applications from talented students through advertisements. After thorough procedures, the first batch consisting of 300 students was selected for their admissions to Cuban institutions purely on merit in 2008. Later, another 700 or so students were sent to Cuba in different batches.
These medical students started facing difficulties when they started returning early this year. The first hurdle they met with was how to get a practice licence because under the latest law; they had to take a National Examination Board (NEB) test conducted by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for this purpose.
It is compulsory for every Pakistani medical student, who has graduated from any other country, to appear in the NEB test in order to get the Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) certificate if he or she wants to start medical practice in Pakistan.
Dr Abid Ali, Dr Tayyab Mehmood Ali and other Cuban scholarship holders told Daily Times that they appreciate the scholarships programme of the Cuban government and that they were imparted quality education at leading medical universities.
They said that the first batch of around 300 scholarship holders had graduated with MD degree in February 2014 while the remaining scholars would be graduating in 2015.
They added that the objective of the scholarship programme was to train 1,000 students in medicine in such a way that they could serve their own people immediately after completion of their studies.
They said that despite clearing the final comprehensive Cuban State Exam, they were now being asked to appear in the NEB test conducted by the PMDC in order to become an RMP.
They said that they have been studying in an HEC-supervised scholarship project; therefore, it was unfair to treat them like other Pakistani medical graduates of foreign institutions, which normally did not follow any merit-based selection criterion.
They said that their parents had made numerable sacrifices and efforts at various levels throughout this period to help them complete their studies.
They said that it was not a matter concerning 1,000 individuals only; rather it was a matter concerning 1,000 families; therefore, the government should take it seriously.
They appealed to the prime minister to look into the matter personally and provide them justice.

‘Favouritism’ hits Punjab University Geography Department recruitments

‘Favouritism’ hits Punjab University Geography Department recruitments

LAHORE: Those who matter at the Punjab University (PU) Geography Department have published a fake research journal to facilitate a ‘favourite’ candidate in his recruitment to an associate professor vacancy.
The controversy erupted after some editions of the Pakistan Geographical Review, a research journal of PU’s Geography Department, were published with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), which is being used by the Pakistan Medical Forum, a Karachi-based journal. The ISSN number of both journals is 0030-9788.
Meanwhile, some of the editions of the Pakistan Geographical Review have also been published without any ISSN, which is a violation of the rules and regulations of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Geography Department Chairman Dr Abdul Ghaffar did all this in what appeared to be a slipshod manner only in order to help recruit his favourite candidate, Dr Ibtisam Butt, who is also associate editor of the journal, to an associate professor vacancy.
According to HEC’s requirement, an assistant professor must have 10 publications of research articles to his or her credit for being eligible to become an associate professor. However, Dr Ibtisam had only three or four publications when the vacancy was announced.
What adds another twist to the story is that department published pending editions of more than five years i.e. 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 in just two months and all these journals contain research articles authored by Dr Ibtisam. The act appears to have been done to help Dr Ibtisam complete his required number of publications (10) in order to qualify for the recruitment.
It is also notable that Dr Ghaffar’s own appointment as a professor has been challenged by Science Faculty Dean Dr Haris Rasheed through an application to the vice chancellor.
When contacted, Dr Ghaffar told Daily Times that journal was publishing continuously since 1950 but that he was informed in a conference in 2011 that the same ISSN had been issued to another US journal; therefore, its publication was stopped.
He added that publishing journals without ISSN was not an issue as the HEC allows publishing journals without ISSN.
To a question about favouritism, he said that all of the allegations were baseless and that these allegations were indeed politics unleashed by rival candidates.

Govt of Punjab to increase education, health budgets in next fiscal

Govt of Punjab to increase education, health budgets in next fiscal

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman has said that the government will increase education and health budgets during the next fiscal year.
Rehman said this while addressing as the chief guest the first convocation of the Punjab University College of Pharmacy (PUCP) at Pearl Continental Hotel on Monday.
PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran presided over the ceremony while PUCP Principal Prof Dr Mubashar Ahmed Butt, PU Examinations Controller Prof Dr Liaqat Ali, Convocation Convener Dr Syed Nawazish-i-Husain, Chief Medical Officer Dr Nauman Ahmed, faculty members and a large number of students attended it.
The chief guest distributed 178 Doctor of Pharmacy degrees among graduates. Saba Zia got gold medal for overall first position while Hafiz Muhammad Irfan Nazar got gold medal on showing outstanding performance in industrial pharmacy.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister Rehman said that education and health sectors were on top priority of the government and that the provincial government had spent 26 percent of its total budget on education sector during the last year.
He said that the Punjab government had taken steps for the welfare of pharmacists including ensuring their mandatory appointments in hospitals, improvement of their service structure, delegation of powers of drug inspector to pharmacists in hospitals and mandatory appointment of pharmacists in distribution channels. Noting that pharmacists could play important role in healthcare system, the minister advised the graduates to serve the ailing humanity with passion and excel in their profession with dedication.
Vice Chancellor Dr Kamran said that a lot of verses of the Holy Quran stress observing natural phenomena and resolving mysteries of the universe. This reflected the importance of acquisition of knowledge in the religion of Islam. He said that average spending of the world countries on education was around 5 percent of their gross domestic products (GDPs) while Pakistan was spending less than 2 percent of its GDP.
He said that total GDP of the United States was $16 trillion while it was spending around $800 billion on education and around $320 billion on research and development while volume of Pakistan’s GDP was only around $220 billion. He said that acquisition of knowledge was a must for respectable survival in the comity of nations. He advised the students to work hard, develop strong grasp over their subjects, do justice and cooperate with each other.
Dr Mubashar Butt said that the college was the oldest seat of learning in the discipline of pharmacy in the country. He requested the finance minister to allocate money in the next budget for paid internship of students.

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) to launch shariah PhD, MS programmes

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) to launch shariah PhD, MS programmes

ISLAMABAD: The faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has decided to launch PhD (shahriah), LLM (shahriah), and MS (shahriah) from the Autumn semester. In this connection, all administrative and academic homework have been finalised, said Vice Chancellor Ali Asghar Chishti. The admissions in these programmes would be offered in the Autumn semester, which would be started in August/September. Chishti said that the departments working under the faculty of the Arabic and Islamic Studies includes Arabic, Quran and Tafseer, Islamic Law and Jurisprudence (Fiqh), Islamic Thought, History/Culture and Hadith, and Seerah. The scope and activities of the faculty, he said can be seen in the wide range of courses which are offered by the faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The Islamic Law and Jurisprudence was established in 1999 to teach the Islamic Law and shariah from Matric to PhD levels as per contemporary requirements, and to provide opportunity of professional growth and development to the scholars of Islamic law in general and in service personals in particular, he added. The vice chancellor said that now the department of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies is going to launch PhD (shariah), LLM (shahriah), and MS (shahriah) programmes the upcoming semester.

Chinese language course concludes atConfucius Institute of National University of Modern Languages (NUML)

Chinese language course concludes atConfucius Institute of National University of Modern Languages (NUML)

ISLAMABAD: A special Chinese language course has concluded at the Confucius Institute of National University of Modern Languages (NUML). The course, which was of four-month duration, was supervised by Yin Hujie, a Chinese teacher. The course was attended by professionals and employees of different government and private departments and organisations. The participants of the course appreciated the NUML for its efforts in promoting Chinese language, saying that in the emerging world scenario, it is imperative to learn the language as China is the second largest economy. He urged the need for arranging more courses of Chinese language.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to start cessation clinic in first week of June

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to start cessation clinic in first week of June

ISLAMABAD: Capital Administration and Development Division (CA&DD) Deputy Director Minhaj Siraj on Saturday said that the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) is all set to open its cessation clinic in the first week of June.Addressing a press conference, he said that the district administration has approved the request of the CA&DD in declaring all mega-social events in the city, tobacco and smoke free. He said that the CA&DD is also developing a plan for cancer prevention and its control involving all stakeholders and last week, it has been assigned to prepare itself to establish the first “Comprehensive Care Cancer Hospital”, of the country, in the capital. He said that the “Islamabad Tobacco Smoke free initiative” by the Capital Administration and Development Division aims at a comprehensive and universal protection of the masses. He said that a project has conducted a baseline survey of “Second-hand Tobacco Smoke” in over 100 ear-marked public places of the capital.The data from the recorders is being interpreted and would be compared with another similar monitoring at the end year of the project to ascertain the impact, our efforts could make. He said that another survey regarding the current implementation status of the law was completed involving 1,250 public places and retail sale points of tobacco products, within the city. He said that the district administration’s focal person for tobacco control is exerting her best efforts but there is need to exercise less tolerance and enforce the law in stricter dimensions, as the results of this survey are very far from pleasing. The current volatile law and order situation in the country is not conducive to focus on the tobacco control laws but the use of tobacco is killing five times more Pakistanis then terrorism, target killings, road accidents, sectarian violence, honour killings, and drone attacks combined. Minhaj said that as the tobacco control efforts in the country are donor-funded, the CA&DD secretary has instructed the project management to prepare a PC-1 for securing the ownership of the government for this major public health issue. The first draft of the project digest would be submitted to the Planning Commission, within this financial year before end June, he added.

76 young professionals ready to attend United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) scholarships

76 young professionals ready to attend United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) scholarships

ISLAMABAD: Seventy-six (76) young professionals gathered at a local hotel on Saturday for their pre-departure orientation for a year of study at the United States community colleges.This is the eighth group of Pakistani students to study in the US under the US government-funded Community Colleges Initiative Programme (CCIP). The programme is administered by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP). Addressing the ceremony, US Embassy Country Cultural Affairs officer Robert Raines said, “Going to the US on this programme would be a life-changing opportunity.” He said that after studying in the US colleges and completing internships in their fields, community college initiative students come back to Pakistan with new skills and knowledge to help their communities. “So far, 248 Pakistanis have participated in the CCIP and had the opportunity to show everyday Americans the true face of Pakistan,” he added.The programme is a one-year, non-degree scholarship programme that provides opportunities for the Pakistani young professionals to develop leadership, professional skills, and English language proficiency, while studying at a community college in the US. Participants during their stay in the US would study agriculture, applied engineering, business management and administration, media, early childhood education or tourism, and hospitality management. The US Embassy in Pakistan administers the largest educational and cultural programmes of any US Embassy in the world.Around 9,000 Pakistanis have participated in fully-funded academic or professional development programmes in the US. Five thousand Pakistani youths are currently enrolled in US government-funded English language programmes in Pakistan. These programmes manifest the sincere interest of the US to build partnership with the people of Pakistan.

No Tobacco Day observed at Benazir Bhutto Hospital BBH Rawalpindi

No Tobacco Day observed at Benazir Bhutto Hospital BBH Rawalpindi

RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi Medical College and Allied Hospitals Principal Muhammad Umer on Saturday said that smoking is one of the main causes of heart diseases and blood pressure. He was addressing at a function in order to mark the “No Tobacco Day”, held at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital. He asked the people to adopt precautionary measures because prevention is better than cure. He asked the doctors and the medical students to play their active role in promoting health education. Benazir Bhutto Hospital Medical Superintendent Asif Qadir Mir said that special emphasis is being laid down to sensitise patients and smokers about the after effects of smoking, besides extending medical treatment facilities. Consultant Cardiologist Mehdi Hassan Raja said it is alarming to note that 5 million people die every year in the world due to heart disease. He said that 80 thousand people die in Pakistan due to this ailment which needs to be tackled by creating awareness. Later, the staff of the hospital distributed informative material among the patients and their relatives about the negative and adverse effects of smoking.

Literary festival held to remember Parveen Shakir

Literary festival held to remember Parveen Shakir

Literary festival held to remember Parveen Shakir

Literary festival held to remember Parveen Shakir

ISLAMABAD: Literary figures on Friday paid tribute to great Urdu poetess, Parveen Shakir on first day of ‘Perveen Shakir Urdu Literature Festival,’ being organised by Parveen Shakir Trust here at COMSATS University.Veteran Intellectual and poet Majeed Amjad said that Parveen Shakir skilfully portrayed complexities of life through her profound insight.Majeed Amjad, told APP that Parveen Shakir has added a new dimension to the traditional theme of love by giving expression to her emotions in a simple style and she used variety of words to convey different thoughts with varying intensities using imaginative insight. “Her poetry was a breath of fresh air in Urdu poetry. She used the first-person feminine pronoun, which is rarely used in Urdu poetry even by female poets,” Amjad added. Famous poet Abbas Tabish said that Parveen Shakir portrayed the issues related to the women. “She gives a message for women that they must have high aims whatever the consequences are,” Tabish said. Her poetic collection reflects the universal feelings of anger, happiness, pain and love, besides feminine perspective of love and the associated social problems, he said. Prominent poetess Hameeda Shaheen said Parveen Shakir was the first female poetess who expressed emotions and feelings of a young girl in a realistic manner. Spontaneity in expression was the hallmark of her poetry that mesmerized the young lot especially girls, she said. Shaheen further said Parveen played greater role in depiction of romanticism in her poetic work. Like Ahmad Faraz, the poetry of Parveen Shakir attracted the hearts of youngsters, she said.Her published collection of works including Khushboo, Sad- barg, Khud Kalami, Inkar, Mah-e-Tamam are considered as most popular collections in literary history and admired by people, Hameeda Shaheen added. Actor Qawi Khan while paying tribute to the great Urdu poetess said that she was a self-made woman and adopted purely eastern style in her poems. She not only expressed her feelings but also of working women. The sitting was organized in Eight different segments in which many others paid tribute to the poetess. Head of the Parveen Shakir Trust, Parveen Qadir Agha, told APP that she was one of those female poets who could be regarded as pioneers in defying tradition by expressing the “female experience” in Urdu poetry. On the occasion many others also paid tribute to the poetess.

Smoking kills 100,000 Pakistanis every year: Health experts for increased taxes on tobacco in budget 2014-15

Smoking kills 100,000 Pakistanis every year: Health experts for increased taxes on tobacco in budget 2014-15

ISLAMABAD: Highlighting the alarming number of deaths tobacco use causes every year, health experts demanded the government to raise taxes on tobacco and its products in the upcoming budget 2014.They were addressing a public awareness seminar organised by Shifa International Hospital (SIH) in connection with World No Tobacco Day here on Friday. Every year, on 31st May, World No Tobacco Day is marked, underlining the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The theme of this year’s campaign is “raise taxes on tobacco, lower death and disease”. A large number of people including consultants, doctors, civil society representatives, medical students and citizens of twin cities attended the seminar. Executive Director Health Services Academy Dr. Asad Hafeez was the chief guest of the seminar. Director Strategic Planning SIH Mahmood Mirza thanked the audience, chief guest and the media for their support to create awareness in masses about the negative effects and threats tobacco use can pose to human body. Dr. Asad Hafeez the government will implement comprehensive ban on tobacco advertisement by May 31. He said there was a dire need to impose more taxes on tobacco as around one thousand children from age 8 to 10 start using tobacco every day.Consultant Pulmonologist SIH Dr. Sohail Naseem said as many as 5000 people in the country are admitted in the hospitals everyday owing to tobacco related diseases, Above 100,000 die every year due to smoking related diseases. Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 6, 00,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke or passive smoking. Unless we act now, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year-by-year 2030 across the world.Dr. Sohail said smoking would kill one billion persons by the end of this century. He said half of the Pakistani men are regular smokers and about 55 percent families in Pakistan have at least one person who smokes. He said sheesha was equally dangerous. “Major part of household income is being spent on smoking rather on health and education,” he said. Pakistan is losing almost Rs562 million daily in cigarette smoking. Eighty percent of cigarettes are consumed in developing countries including Pakistan.He informed that smoking causes an estimated 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent in women. An estimated 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking.Consultant Cardiologist and Head of Cardiology Department SIH Dr. Asad Ali Saleem said negative effects of smoking and tobacco use are beyond lungs and pulmonary diseases. He said smoking is one of the major causes of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. He observed that above 70 percent people with cardiovascular diseases are smokers. Smoking causes failure to taste food; it shrinks arteries and causes various cardiac diseases. Smoking is major cause of heart attack. “Heart attack death rate is 70 percent greater in male smokers than non-smokers”, he added. “Government must increase tax on cigarettes in this budget, as it’s the most effective policy to reduce tobacco use”, Dr. Asad stressed. Consultant Radiation Oncologist Dr. Asif Masood said that various cancers including acute myeloid leukaemia, lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, cancer of the cervix, cancer of the oesophagus, kidney cancer, cancer of the larynx (voice box) and uterus cancer are caused by direct smoking, second-hand smoking, chewing tobacco and using pan, gutka or sheesha.“Smokers face an increased risk of certain types of throat and stomach cancers, even years after they quit,” he remarked. Dr Asif concluded on the message that “Tobacco Company kills its best costumer”. Later, Shifa announced to launch a support group for citizens who want to quit smoking and seek support after getting rid of this deadly habit. The hospital also announced to arrange hiking on Islamabad’s trail 3 to raise awareness on the harms of tobacco on Sunday, June 1.

Millions of Newborn Deaths Reported (Listen to audio report)

Millions of Newborn Deaths Reported (Listen to audio report)

Every Newborn Action Plan, an international initiative, is scheduled to be launched in June 2014. It's estimated there are 5.5-million newborn and still birth deaths each year

Every Newborn Action Plan, an international initiative, is scheduled to be launched in June 2014. It’s estimated there are 5.5-million newborn and still birth deaths each year

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Despite five-and-a-half million newborn and stillborn baby deaths each year, investment in newborn health remains very low. That’s one of the findings in a series of papers published in the medical journal The Lancet. The research also shows the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented.

Lead researcher Joy Lawn said the research is the most accurate estimate yet on the number of deaths of newborns and stillbirths.

“Every year there are two-point-nine-million babies who die in the first month of life — and most shockingly a million who die on their birthday, the first day. And there are two-point-six-million stillbirths — most shockingly, one-point-two-million who die while the woman is in labor. So together this is five-and-a-half-million babies,” she said.

Most of the deaths are in low and middle income countries. But rich nations, she said, are not immune. There are about 500,000 pre-term births in the United States every year.

“The three leading causes around the world are pre-term births, birth complications — so where women don’t get the right care during labor. And babies that are full-term can have damage and even die because of lack of care during labor – and then, thirdly, infections,” she said.

Lawn is a professor and Director of the March Center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an advisor to Save the Children UK. She said many babies and their mothers could be saved for just a few dollars worth of medical care.

“In this series we show very clearly that 71-percent of newborn deaths can be prevented with solutions that we have already. And that together, three-million women, babies – counting newborns and stillbirths – could be saved every year with investments at the time of birth. So that’s a triple return on investment with care at the time of birth,” she said.

That care includes simple things like keeping the baby warm; helping it learn to breastfeed and making sure it has skin to skin contact with its mother.

Also, Lawn said there are injections that can greatly improve the odds of a baby’s survival. One injection prevents tetanus infections, a nearly always fatal condition for babies.

Another contains corticosteroids and is given to women in pre-term labor. Corticosteroids affect stress and immune response and inflammation. They help premature babies improve their breathing. This is standard treatment in rich nations, but not in developing countries. It costs less than one dollar.

Lawn said that it’s been known for many years that a large number of newborns die. Yet, funding to prevent the problem remains low.

“Of the billions of dollars that are given for child survival, only four-percent of that donor funding even mentions the word newborn. And yet 44-percent of under-five deaths are among newborns. So there’s a major mismatch in what the funding is going to compared to where the deaths are now,” she said.

Much of the funding goes towards preventing deaths of mothers and children up to age five.

In recent years, it’s become more common in the U.S. to issue birth certificates for stillborn babies. Lawn said it means a lot to parents to know that their child has been recognized. However, what the papers in The Lancet also show is that in many developing countries no record is kept.

Lawn said, “A women who loses a newborn death or a stillbirth in many of the places I’ve worked in Africa – there will be no piece of paper. The baby may not be named. It’s very unlikely there will be any funeral or public recognition. And those things aren’t just sad for the woman, but they hide the whole problem. The fact that in this day and age you can have five-and-a-half million babies entering and leaving the planet without official record – but also mostly without funerals or recognition – actually stops us [from] acting.”

More than 50 experts from 28 institutions in 17 countries took part in The Lancet series.

In June, a new international initiative is set to be launched called Every Newborn Action Plan. It’s described as “an evidence-based roadmap toward care for every women and a healthy start for every newborn baby

Melinda Gates Pushes to Curb Newborn Deaths

Melinda Gates Pushes to Curb Newborn Deaths

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly, in May 2014, in Geneva.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly, in May 2014, in Geneva.

 — Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, urged delegates to endorse the first global action plan to end newborn deaths in a keynote address to the World Health Assembly.  

Health officials agree that newborn deaths are preventable. Yet nearly 3 million babies die each year within their first 28 days of life.  Many do not even get a chance to draw a breath. The World Health Organization (WHO) says 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and more than one million of those deaths occur during labor.

Because of this staggering toll, Gates hopes WHO will pass the Newborn Action Plan by the end of the week. That way, she says, health ministers can immediately start the process of saving these young lives.  

At a news conference in Geneva, the philanthropist told journalists five low-cost interventions are very effective in saving newborns, including breastfeeding, methods of resuscitating newborns, preventing and treating infections, and so-called kangaroo care for premature babies. That technique involves prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

Finding success

Gates says Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nepal are already applying these interventions with some success.  
 
“Simply by using the health care extension worker, a health community worker platform that they have got and focusing on those newborn deaths, they have been able to bring down not just under-five mortality, but newborn death rates as well,” she said. “So, we have those as models and the other African nations and other countries around the world are looking at those three countries to learn what is actually possible by focusing on this.”

Gates says Ethiopia’s newborn death rate has gone down by 28 percent since it began focusing on this issue in the last six years.  

As part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, great progress has been made in cutting maternal and under-five child mortality. But WHO reports South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have the highest numbers of newborn deaths every year, with India, Nigeria and Pakistan topping the list.

Maternal mortality 

Gates says the issue of newborn deaths has been neglected as a consequence of focusing on maternal mortality.  

The lives of mother and child are inextricably linked. Nevertheless, Gates says midwives or community health workers tend to focus on saving the life of the mother during delivery.

“They have seen so many mothers die in childbirth,” she said. “So they will focus immediately and sometimes exclusively, unfortunately, on the mother until they have got her in a state, making sure that she is going to survive.  And, then they turn to the newborn.  So, quite often, you will get in a situation where the baby has got cool over time.  Sometimes they will do wrong practice in some countries. They will actually scrub the vernix off the baby, which will introduce infection.”

Gates says it is important to make midwives and community health workers understand they should focus on both mother and child at the same time.

An analysis published by the British journal, The Lancet, shows that progress in reducing newborn mortality lags behind successful efforts to improve the survival rate for children under the age of five. In most regions of the world, more than half of all child deaths are among newborns.

While saving newborn lives is a tender-hearted thing to do, the Lancet notes it also makes good economic sense. It says every dollar invested in newborn survival returns $9 in economic benefits.