Stillbirths: An unnecessary, unspeakable tragedy — UN report

Asha Bajaj
3 min readOct 8, 2020

#UN; #StillBirth; #WomenHealth; #Tragedy; #UNICEF


Kadiatu Sama, who has had no prenatal care and whose child was stillborn, is comforted by a woman nurse in the maternity ward of the government hospital in Sierra Leone.

A stillborn baby is delivered every 16 seconds, which translates into nearly two million infants over the course of a year that never took their first breath, according to a new UN report published on Thursday.

A Neglected Tragedy: The Global Burden of Stillbirths, released by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), reveals that 84 percent of these grievous episodes occur in low and lower-middle-income countries.

The first-ever joint global estimates also point out that stillbirths remain a challenge for high-income countries, where a mother’s level of education is one of the greatest drivers of inequity, and ethnic minorities may lack access to sufficient quality health care.

“Losing a child at birth or during pregnancy is a devastating tragedy for a family, one that is often endured quietly, yet all too frequently, around the world”, lamented UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

A majority of stillbirths could have been prevented — UNICEF chief

COVID factor

And the report attests that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead a further rise.

A pandemic-induced 50 percent reduction in health services, could cause nearly 200,000 additional stillbirths over a 12-month period in 117 low and middle-income countries, according to modeling done for the report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Muhammad Ali Pate, Global Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank, and Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents spelled out: “COVID-19 has triggered a devastating secondary health crisis for women, children, and adolescents due to disruptions in life-saving health services”.

Poor quality of pregnancy and delivery care; a lack of antenatal and intrapartum services and weak…



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women