THERE are few tragedies in life which leave a scar as deep as the loss of an unborn child.

Every day in the UK, 11 babies are stillborn and a further six will die soon after birth. That is 6500 babies every year; one of the highest rates in the developed world. A child lost after 24 weeks of pregnancy is a stillbirth and will affect one in 200 pregnant women.

Thankfully, we have moved on from the "rugby pass" practice of only thirty years ago when a stillborn child was quickly taken from the mother without her ever having the chance to cradle him or her. Now, mothers can spend up to 24 hours with their baby and have photographs taken together. However, provision remains patchy. Not every grieving mother is given a room away from the maternity ward. Many still have to come to terms with their loss in the midst of a room full of new mums.

Anyone who has been touched by miscarriage or stillbirth is never the same. A due date which had once been marked on the calendar with happy anticipation will be endured silently and that sad date will be forever branded on the mother's heart. With no happy memories to call on in the dark times, it is a grief like no other.

Stillbirth is ten times more common than cot death, and yet our understanding of cot death and what can be done to prevent it is far better. Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to address this. With an intertwined blue and a pink ribbon as its symbol, it offers an opportunity to mark the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or during or just after birth. While there has been change in the way women are treated by medical professionals, the hard statistics have remained stubbornly static for two decades.

According to the stillbirth charity Sands, this is linked to the persistent belief that a stillbirth cannot be prevented but is just one of life's sadnesses. This is not the case. At least one in four deaths could potentially be avoided with better maternal care.

More research is desperately needed. In 2010, charity Tommy's looked into funding and discovered that a paltry 0.33 per cent of government funding was going to related research. In Scotland, a start has been made by the Early Years Collaborative, a coalition launched by the Scottish government, which announced in January 2013 that it wanted a 15 per cent reduction in the stillbirth rate by the end of 2015 (from 4.9 to 4.3 per 1000 births). Once established, research findings must be used to affect maternal care without delay.

On Wednesday, couples around the world will step out from their private grief to come together and remember their babies who were born sleeping. By lighting a candle at 7pm to represent their lost child, it is hoped to create a global Wave of Light.

Stillbirth remains taboo, but this kind of awareness raising is imperative. It offers comfort and solidarity to those who feel bereft and isolated following their own loss and by raising general awareness will force this issue higher up the health agenda. It is hard enough for a family to deal with such a loss. How much more acute is that pain if families are left feeling that such a tragedy was avoidable.