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Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

Continue reading Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

Every Newborn Action Plan Launches in Johannesburg

Johannesburg – After over a year of work, the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) was officially launched on Monday, June 30 in Johannesburg during the third Partners’ Forum. In May, the Plan was adopted by the World Health Assembly in Geneva by all 194 member countries during succesful, albeit precarious deliberations.

The Every Newborn Action Plan aims to save three million lives per year. Currently 2.9 million newborns die annually. And tragically, another 2.6 million are stillbirths. Most of these deaths are never counted. Counting newborns across the globe is a strategic priority in the Every Newborn Action Plan.

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Graca Machel, PMNCH Board Chair, launches the Every Newborn Action Plan in Johannesburg on Monday, June 30. Photo: Jennifer James

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 ambitious 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.

Now that the Every Newborn Action Plan has been adopted by the World Health Assembly and officially launched at the Partners’ Forum, it is now time for individual countries to implement the plan and save more newborn lives. It’s now time for the implementation and accountability phase. We’ll be watching closely.

Can a Village Revolution for Mothers and Newborns Go Global?

Kenya: Carolyn MilesBy Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the ChildrenFollow Carolyn Miles at @carolynsave.

Fifteen years have passed since a husband and wife team in western India challenged the notion that the deaths of thousands of mothers and millions of babies during pregnancy and childbirth are inevitable in poor and remote communities.

Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang trained a battalion of local women to deliver lifesaving care to mothers and newborns who had little access to doctors or hospitals. Their paper published in 1999 in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, recorded that the interventions delivered by these community-based health workers led to a 62 percent reduction in newborn mortality in only three years. Since then, more evidence has been generated suggesting that up to 75 percent of maternal and newborn deaths are preventable — most without intensive care.

Today babies in some of the world’s poorest, most remote communities are being saved through the use of low-tech interventions, such as a low-cost, hand-held device that can resuscitate babies who are not breathing at birth or an antiseptic gel that can prevent deadly infections when applied to the umbilical cord immediately after birth.

These interventions — and a number of others — have the potential of saving 1.9 million newborns and 158,000 mothers a year, while also averting 800,000 stillbirths, according to the latest estimates published in The Lancet last month. But the problem is this: So far no country in Africa or South Asia — where 80 percent of maternal and newborn deaths take place — has succeeded in delivering these high-impact, cost-effective interventions nationwide. Yet, based on the work of the Bangs and others, we know that these lives CAN be saved.

Without these interventions reaching every woman and every newborn, many deaths happen needlessly each year. But that may be about to change.

Last month, when the World Health Assembly met in Geneva, health ministers from around the world took the historic step of making maternal and newborn health and stillbirths a top global health priority. The health ministers approved the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), a roadmap to help countries sharpen their plans to reduce stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths.

Even more importantly, many countries, including India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi have already taken steps to change health policies that will help ensure that proven newborn interventions are made more widely available. In Ethiopia and India, for example, trained personnel at community health posts are now allowed to use injectable antibiotics to treat severe newborn infections when a hospital referral is not possible. In both countries severe infections are among the leading killers of newborns.

Increasing access and use of such interventions, especially for those that have not been reached, will help ensure that the reductions in newborn mortality start to catch up with great global declines we’ve already seen in deaths to children after the first month of life. Currently, babies who die within the first month of life account for almost half (44 percent) of all deaths of children under age 5.

On Monday, ENAP will be launched with great fanfare in Johannesburg, with many notables and agencies including Save the Children joining in a global call to action.

Hopefully, this will mark the beginning of one of the world’s greatest health crusades in history — ending preventable deaths of mothers and newborns and stillbirths within our own lifetime.

#SouthAfricaCares Side Event In Photos #PMNCHLive

During a packed event at Michelangelo hotel in Johannesburg, key partners including Save the Children, World Vision, PATH, Mothers 2 Mothers, and the Society of Midwives of South Africa came together to rally support for newborns and celebrate the progress thus far to save millions of vulnerable newborns around the world.

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The Every Newborn Action Plan was endorsed by 194 countries in May 2014 and will be officially launched at the PMNCH Partners’ Forum today. At this early pre-event called “A Common Thread: Reaching Every Woman and Every Newborn” leaders in the global call to save newborns and their mothers spoke including Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, Joy Lawn, professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, former Ethiopian Minister of Health as well as the Minister of Health of South Africa.

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During the event Save the Children unveiled its Blanket of Hope with squares from across the globe.

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And global stories of mothers and their newborns and their survival were placed throughout.

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The Partners’ Forum begins today in Johannesburg. Follow along at #PMNCHLive.