Shockingly, each year there are an estimated 3.2 million stillbirths across the world. To compare with other mortality rates, this is twice the global number of deaths due to AIDS.  Attention is needed both politically and via the media to prevent stillbirths. 

Despite over 8,700 deaths a day there is almost no awareness of the high incidence of stillbirths, nor that a great deal can be done to reduce this unacceptable rate of loss.

In April 2011 the Lancet medical journal is focusing on stillbirth in a series of six papers authored by leading international stillbirth researchers. The Lancet is a highly respected journal which has international recognition and influence. The Stillbirth Series brings together the latest global stillbirth statistics with analysis of rates, causes and strategies for preventing deaths from the perspectives of low and high income countries.

The message in this Series is that stillbirth is a major, yet almost completely neglected health priority and that there is evidence that the rates of stillbirth could be substantially reduced. The Series concludes with a Global Call to Action which sets out steps that should be taken to reduce this tragic loss of life– many of them relatively simple and economical.

The Stillbirth Series presents an opportunity to advocate and influence maternal and infant health outcomes and the provision of maternity care in our country. It provides clear evidence and authoritative recommendations for action which have the potential to inform health policy and be acted upon by governments, health organizations and the public.

We encourage you to bring the recommendations to the attention of your health policy makers and use the Series to raise the profile of stillbirths and the devastating impact these deaths have in our own country.

The Series launched on the 13 April 2011 in Johannesburg, with a simultaneous press launch in London. During the year there were further launches including in the USA and Asia. The papers in the Series are available for public view via the Lancet website at

The Series received prominent international media attention which can be capitalized by encouraging local media interest. The media is often very interested in the personal perspective and this is where parents can help play an important role in offering case studies and interviewees to illustrate the impact and consequences of stillbirth statistics at a personal level.

Please join us in this effort by joining 1st Breath and receiving notification when we have a “Call To Action.”  If you are able to organize publicity to raise awareness of stillbirth in your area, at whatever level, we strongly encourage you to take this great opportunity to do so.

- Adapted From ISA