Home Visits for the Newborn Child: A Strategy to Improve Survival

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– World Health Organization, UNICEF, 2009. English.
– This joint statement by the WHO and UNICEF states that implementing home visits as a part of the newborn care strategy is essential to improving child survival. The document provides recommendations, evidence and special condition guidance for health workers when caring for newborns.

Every year, about 3.7 million babies die in the first four weeks of life (2004 estimates). Most of these newborns are born in developing countries and most die at home. Up to two-thirds of these deaths can be prevented if mothers and newborns receive known, effective interventions. A strategy that promotes universal access to antenatal care, skilled birth attendance and early postnatal care will contribute to sustained reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality.

While both mothers and newborns need care during the period after birth, this statement focuses on the care of the newborn child, and the evidence for the same.  Studies have shown that home-based newborn care interventions can prevent 30-60% of newborn deaths in high mortality settings under controlled conditions. Therefore, WHO and UNICEF now recommend home visits in the baby’s first week of life to improve newborn survival.

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