Pakistan has the highest rate of stillbirths and first-day deaths in the world, according to a report by international charity Save the Children.
The report titled Ending Newborn Deaths was released by the UK-based NGO in Islamabad on Tuesday.
“More than 200,000 children in Pakistan die each year during childbirth or its first day of life, which is the highest rate globally,” the report said.
It called on the government to take active steps to bring down the child mortality rate.
According to the report, half the deaths in Pakistan and around the world could be prevented if mothers and babies had free healthcare facilities and skilled midwives on hand to assist in child births.
“The first moments of a child’s life are the most dangerous, yet too many mothers give birth without any skilled help,” said Ghulam Qadri, deputy country director for Save the Children in Pakistan.
“It’s criminal that many of these 200,000 deaths annually in Pakistan can be averted simply by having someone around to make sure the birth takes place safely and knows what to do in a crisis.”
The report declared Pakistan as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a mother or baby.
“Approximately 70,000 babies die on the day of birth,” said Dr Qudsia Uzma, a health and nutrition specialist at Save the Children.
“The government has begun deploying health community midwives to improve skilled birth attendance in rural areas, but only 45 percent of those have been properly trained.
“The root problem is the lack of skilled health workers with the right equipment and medical supplies to support mothers, especially in the most rural and remote areas where they are needed the most,” she added.
In a bid to save millions of newborns, Save the Children has urged world leaders to commit this year to a blueprint for change.
The plan focuses on training and equipping enough skilled health workers to make sure that by 2025 no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.