World Birth Defects Day 2020

3 March 2020

Launched on 3 March 2015, we are now celebrating the 5th edition of the World Birth Defects Day. Although started as an annual event, this day has now become a movement, with the aim to mobilise resources and commitment to improve birth defects surveillance, research, prevention and care. The first priority is to increase the visibility of birth defects and disseminate what is already known on how to prevent birth defects and how to improve health and quality of life of affected individuals.

Let’s start by observing World Birth Defects Day today by  joining the Buzz Day on social media, using the hashtag #WorldBDDay: check out the toolkit for example message, or learn how you can join the I CARE Campaign.

An estimated 303 000 newborns die within 4 weeks of birth every year, worldwide, due to birth defects. Many newborns with birth defects who do survive may develop long-term disability. However, when they are not registered at birth, they will be invisible in statistics and at serious risk of non-treatment or even abandonment.

We would like to recall that in its 2010 Birth Defects Resolution, the 63rd World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Association urged Member States to increase coverage of effective prevention measures including vaccination against rubella, folic acid supplementation, programmes addressing tobacco and alcohol use among pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive, and to foster the development of parent–patient organizations.

Member States were also urged to take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children and give priority to the child’s well-being and support and facilitate families in their child-care and child-raising efforts.

Reducing child mortality and premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment is also part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Children with birth defects count and need to be cared for. We need to make sure to leave no one behind!