Birth defects (also known as congenital disorders) are a wide range of illnesses and abnormalities that cause a third of all childhood deaths around the world. 95% of cases occur in low and middle income countries where services for diagnosis, treatment and care are poor or non-existent. Where babies do survive their early years, families face incredible challenges and the effects on already fragile household incomes can be catastrophic. Birth defects seriously affect the life chances of children and their families.
Up to 70% of birth defects are preventable or treatable, often with simple interventions - so why aren’t we making much progress? One reason is that the size of the problem is under-reported and therefore receives less attention. Another big challenge is that countries lack the wherewithal to determine what’s needed, what’s possible and how to secure services that are right for them.