Ending preventable neonatal deaths: Multicountry evidence to inform accelerated progress to the sustainable development goal by 2030

Document Type



Women and Child Health


Introduction: The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.2 aims for every country to reach a neonatal mortality rate (NMR) of ≤12/1,000 live births by 2030. More than 60 countries are off track, and 2.3 million newborns still die each year. Urgent action is needed, but varies by context, notably mortality level.
Methods: We applied a five-phase NMR transition model based on national analyses for 195 UN member states: I (NMR >45), II (30-<45), III (15-<30), IV (5-<15), and V (<5). We analyzed data over the last century from selected countries to inform strategies to reach SDG3.2. We also undertook impact analyses for packages of care using the Lives Saved Tool software.
Results: An NMR of <15/1,000 requires firstly wide-scale access to maternity care and hospital care for small and sick newborns, including skilled nurses and doctors, safe oxygen use, and respiratory support, such as CPAP. Neonatal mortality could be reduced to the SDG target of ≤12/1,000 with further scale-up of small and sick newborn care. To reduce neonatal mortality further, more investment is required in infrastructure, device bundles (e.g., phototherapy, ventilation), and careful attention to infection prevention. To reach phase V (NMR <5), which is closer to ending preventable newborn deaths, additional technologies and therapies such as mechanical ventilation and surfactant replacement therapy are needed, as well as higher staffing ratios.
Conclusions: Learning from high-income country is important, including what not to do. Introduction of new technologies should be according to the country's phase. Early focus on disability-free survival and family involvement is also crucial


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