• This report also in French and Spanish.

(October 2003) Despite the extraordinary improvements in child survival over the past 25 years, there is still virtually no effective health care for newborns in many developing countries. The size of the problem is sobering: A child’s risk of death is nearly 15 times greater in the first month of life than at any other time during the first year of life. Almost 12,000 of the 350,000 babies born each day die within their first month, and 98 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries. More than 4 million newborns die each year, and an equal number of babies are stillborn.

The Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) initiative developed a newborn health strategy that draws on recent data, research on effective interventions, and broad local participation. The process by which SNL and its partners put this strategy into action might provide guidance to policymakers who wish to improve newborn health and survival in their own countries. The initiative’s staff developed a set of objectives that take into account the fact that newborn care can be both a traditional practice and a health issue. Staff then identified six countries on which to focus and worked out a process to design specific activities in each country.