Introduction: Providing, maintaining, and improving the health of newborns is one of the most important goals of the health care system in the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, we will review factors affecting the health of Iranian neonates over the past 40 years.
Methods: We investigated the evolution of neonatal health and contributing factors in all reports, documents, and articles published by the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education and the former Iranian Ministry of Health as well as WHO, and UNICEF databases from 1970 to 2018. The main topics of the present study include recent developments in reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality, major measures taken to decrease risk of neonatal death, and future challenges.
Results: We have reviewed more than 3500 pages of documents and articles published by authoritative sources before and after the Islamic Revolution. A neonatal mortality rate (NMR) of 9.6 per 1000 in 2017 was recordred in Iran, demonstrating a reduction of over three-quarters compared with the pre-Revolution period. Improved prenatal care and nutrition, tetanus vaccination of pregnant mothers, performance of 96.4% of deliveries by trained individuals, circulation of clinical protocols for the integration of midwifery and maternity services, provision of neonatal resuscitation equipment in delivery rooms, promotion of breastfeeding from the first hour after birth onward, establishing and equipping NICUs, increased training of specialists and sub-specialists, prevention and treatment of infections, increasing awareness in families and family-centered neonatal care focused on neonatal brain development, the Newborn Indivisualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) and Kangaroo-Mother Care (KMC) are examples of progress made in neonate healthcare after the Islamic Revolution.
Conclusion: Despite 8 years of war and a variety of sanctions being imposed against I.R. of Iran, very substantial improvements have been achieved in neonatal health and relevant underlying factors. However, we are still faced with challenges that require the engagement of experts and researchers in neonatal medicine.