Vietnam is among the top 10 countries worldwide to have made the biggest strides in saving newborn lives over the past 20 years, international nonprofit Save the Children said in a report released Tuesday.
The NGO launched its 14th annual State of the World's Mothers report, revealing a 48 percent decline in newborn mortality in Vietnam between 1990 and 2011.
The report compares 176 countries around the globe, showing which are succeeding and which are failing in saving and improving the lives of mothers and their children.
Vietnam was ranked the 86th best country for mothers, based on factors such as their health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health and nutrition.
It came in ahead of other Southeast Asian countries - Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar, but ranked below Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Overall, Finland was ranked the best place to be a mother, while worst was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report includes a new Birth Day Risk Index that ranks 186 countries based the frequency with which babies die on the first day of life.
One in 250 Vietnamese babies die on the day they are born, accounting for one-third of all newborn deaths in Vietnam, making a baby's birth day the most dangerous day of life.
"Vietnam is on track to achieving child and maternal mortality reduction targets as part of the UN Millennium Development Goals. However, more than 17,000 babies still die within the first month of life, many of these deaths are preventable," said Doan Anh Tuan, Interim Country Director for Save the Children in Vietnam.
The leading causes of newborn death in Vietnam include premature delivery, asphyxiation and infection.
According to the report, four products costing between 13 US cents and $6 can prevent a third of those newborn deaths each year.
They are a steroid injection to women with high risk of premature delivery, a resuscitation device to save babies who cannot breathe at birth; the antiseptic chlorhexidine, which prevents umbilical cord infections; and injectable antibiotics that treat infections and pneumonia among newborns.
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