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The Challenge


Global progress in child survival and health to 2015 and beyond cannot be achieved without addressing pre-term birth (Born to soon WHO report 2012).

  • 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide every year and 8 out of 100 of these are born in South Africa.

  • 3 million of these babies die every year within the first 28 days of life and 41% of children under the age of 5 who die in South Africa every year are newborns – a rising percentage.

  • 1.1 million of these babies die from the complications of pre-term birth South Africa ranks 25 out of 184 countries for the number of newborn deaths due to pre-term complications.

This has given rise to an urgent call to reduce by half the under 5-mortality rate between 2010 and 2025, in accordance with Millennium Development Goal (MDG) no 4.

The Groote Schuur Neonatal Unit looks after 3200 of the 40 000 babies born in the Metro West (Southern Peninsula) area annually. Over 500 of these babies have a birth weight of less than 1500g, less than half of what a healthy baby should be.Our average bed occupancy is 150% instead of 80%, meaning facilities are completely over stretched. Overcrowding leads to increased risk of infection, placing the lives of these very tiny babies at risk.

The pace of reduction for neonatal mortality is 1/3 slower than for older children, limiting the progress to MDG 4. The prevention of pre-term birth can only be accelerated through strategic investment aimed at improving existing levels of neonatal care, along with the promotion of innovation, research and training.

Everyone has a role to play in order to reach the goal of halving the number of deaths due to preterm birth by 2025.  EVERY BABY COUNTS