Today the 67th World Health Assembly convened in Geneva, Switzerland. On tap this week will be discussions about health issues ranging from climate change to tuberculosis. Also on the agenda is a key discussion about newborns and the draft of the Every Newborn Action Plan (item 14.2 on the agenda). You might remember that as a network of moms we helped provide comments on the draft plan earlier this year. Our comments along with other stakeholders – over 300 comments in all — helped UNICEF, WHO and their partners revise the Every Newborn Action Plan draft that will be discussed and presented to the assembly.
- Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life. – World Health Organization
Why is there a need for an action plan to save more newborns? While the mortality rate for children under five has been effectively reduced by 50% between 1990 and 2012, the neonatal mortality rate deceased far too slowly even though there are interventions that can save more newborns’ lives. Over the same time period neonatal mortality only fell 37%. The vast majority of newborn deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries due to a lack of investments and quality maternal and newborn health care with 12 countries contributing to most newborn deaths. Most newborns die from one of three causes: prematurity, intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (including birth asphyxia) and neonatal infections.
- Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life. – World Health Organization
The Every Newborn Action Plan lays out the ways in which more newborns can survive through robust continuum of care and provides a framework for countries to reduce their individual newborn mortality rates. The plan has an abitious goal to reduce newborn deaths t0 10 per 1000 people the world over by 2035. In order to reach these goals five strategic objectives have been outlined. The five objectives are (1) strengthen and invest in care during labour, birth and the first day and week of life, (2) improve the quality of maternal and newborn care (3) reach every woman and newborn to reduce inequities (4) harness the power of parents, families and communities and (5) count every newborn – measurement, programme-tracking and accountability.
— Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) May 19, 2014
The health assembly is invited to adopt the plan. Doing so will ensure that more newborn lives will be saved through interventions that work.