Deaths due to birth defects can be prevented : A large number of deaths due to birth defects in children can be prevented through cost-effective measures within the existing health systems, the WHO said on Tuesday. ‘Birth defects are common, costly and critical health challenges globally and particularly in the South-East Asia region which reported 49,000 newborn deaths due to birth defects in 2013,’ Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO South-East Asia Regional Office, said in a statement.
Deaths due to birth defects can be prevented
‘But a large number of these deaths can be prevented with cost effective measures through the existing health care systems,’ she said. The first World Birth Defects Day is being observed on March 3 this year to put the spotlight on this under-recognised problem.
‘On this occasion, WHO urges countries to take measures to prevent as well as minimise the sufferings of children born with birth defects, with timely and appropriate care,’ the statement said. The most common birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down’s syndrome, with 94 percent of the severe ones occurring in middle and low resource settings.
Infants who survive with birth defects suffer long-term disability which impairs them, their families and societies due to the social and economic consequences. ‘We also need to build awareness among the people, the programme managers and health workers to seek and provide early care for their children born with birth defects. Timely and appropriate care can cure or minimise the effects of birth defects in children,’ Khetrapal Singh said.