Every Journey Matters: World Birth Defects Day


Montevideo,  March 1, 2024 — According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year, about 8 million children are born with a birth defect in the world. Congenital anomalies cause 10 per cent of all newborn deaths and many of the babies who survive are at risk of carrying a lifelong disability if they do not have timely access to high-quality care.

However, the burden of death and disability differs by place of birth and is disproportionately high in low- and middle-income countries.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, birth defects represent the second leading cause of neonatal and infant death after prematurity.

In this context, giving visibility and promoting the appropriate approach is essential to advance care that prevents and also improves the quality of life of people born with a congenital anomaly, as well as that of their families and communities.

In 2015, March 3 was established as World Birth Defects Day to raise awareness about the importance of developing and implementing prevention programs, as well as improving the quality of health services and care received by people with birth defects. congenital as their families.

Every journey matters

Under the slogan "Every Journey Matters", the focus this year is on the diversity of experiences and the need to consider the particularities of each case.

No two people suffer from these diseases in the same way, not only because of the disease itself (which in each case is different) but also because of the contexts and environments in which they develop.

In this regard, the regional advisor on Perinatal Health of the Latin American Center for Perinatology - Women's and Reproductive Health (CLP/WR) expressed that “When a person lives with a disability resulting from a congenital defect, this strongly impacts the quality of life. of that person, but also in that of the family and their environment. For this reason, at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) we work from a rights perspective, convinced that health teams must accompany and involve families for the safest and most respectful approach to these situations.”

The advisor also said that "Many birth defects and their consequences can be prevented with actions of proven effectiveness from the pre-gestational, antenatal or postnatal stage. In addition, early diagnosis allows for timely action and anticipation of possible future problems".

Available actions and resources

Some of the actions and resources available are shared below:

  • 5 March - Webinar - Birth Defects: Every Journey Counts. Organised by WHO SEARO (South-East Asia Region) with the aim to promote commitment and development of actions for priority care in the prevention and treatment of birth defects among Member States.  Register here.  
  • Campaign and social media resources. You can join this year's campaign through a number of proposals and resources available here
  • PAHO and partners regional webinar. Date and agenda for this activity, which is scheduled for the end of March, will be published soon.
  • eCBB application. By downloading this application on a mobile device you can access useful information on infant care. The contents are aimed at health teams and families or caregivers.    
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