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10 Facts on Neonatal Mortality Rate: UNICEF Report

Mar 28, 2018 | 2 years ago | Read Time: 2 minutes | By iKnowledge Team

A recent UNICEF report classified India as the 12th worst country for newborns among 52 lower middle-income nations. India ranks below South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka and above Pakistan in the list. Japan has the best neonatal mortality rate, with just 0.9 deaths per 1000 births. Other countries that rated better are Iceland, Singapore, Finland, and Estonia. For the first time, UNICEF ranked countries based on their neonatal mortality rate. Read on for 10 facts based on the report:

India ahead of Pakistan

One in 22 newborns die in Pakistan, and its neonatal mortality rate is 45.6. India is ahead of the curve when it comes to Pakistan, but is behind South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Mortality rates vary across India

Kerala and Goa have newborn mortality rates of 10 per 1000; Bihar and Uttarakhand have 44 deaths per 1000 births. UP, Bihar, MP, and Rajasthan with 46 percent of all births, accounting for 57 % of India’s neonatal deaths.

India’s rating needs to get better

India is way behind the Sustainable Development Goal of neonatal mortality of less than 12 by 2030. To meet this goal, the country will need to work towards reducing its neonatal deaths by half, by the year 2030.

Factors causing neonatal deaths

Premature birth, complications during labour, infections like meningitis and pneumonia cause neonatal deaths among other factors.

Focus on maternal health

Maternal nutrition and health are key factors that can help lower neonatal mortality rates. That’s why, focusing on ante-natal maternal health can bring down the possibility of premature birth and maternal malnutrition.

Solutions to prevent neonatal fatalities

According to UNICEF, neonatal deaths can be prevented by using disinfectants, clean sanitation, clean water, breastfeeding awareness, better nutrition, access to well-trained health workers and midwives. Making health care services better for women, by keeping the mother healthy, reducing malnutrition in adolescent girls and preventing early marriage in girls can help prevent neonatal deaths.

Newborn survival linked to country’s income level

UNICEF notes that newborn survivals are closely linked to a country’s income level. The average newborn mortality rate (NMR) is 27 in low-income countries. As for high-income countries, the NMR is only three, which is a huge gap.

Global statistics

When you look at worldwide statistics, there are 2.6 million neonatal deaths every year, an average of 7000 babies die within a month of birth each year. India accounts for 6,40,000 annual neonatal deaths every year.

India’s under-five mortality rate

Against the world average of 55%, India has managed a 66% reduction in under-five deaths between 1990 to 2015. However, it still lags when it comes to saving babies during the neonatal period. India’s under-five mortality rate reduced to 39 from 43 in the year 2016, which means that it prevented around 120,000 deaths.

Best global neonatal mortality rate

Japan has a neonatal mortality rate of 0.9, which means children there have the best shot at survival. Other countries that come close include Singapore, Iceland, Finland, and Estonia.


Keeping in mind, India’s neonatal mortality rate, the state should consider ways for improving maternal health. It is imperative to focus on necessary healthcare initiatives such as creating awareness about health insurance, women related critical illnesses, and maternal nutrition to bring down neonatal mortality rates.

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