A Call to Action for Newborn Health

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, vowed to end preventable deaths of women, newborns and children at the Call to Action 2015 summit in New Delhi, India.

The Call to Action Summit co-hosted by the Government of India, the Government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tata Trusts brought together over 600 representatives from 24 countries[1], UN agencies, civil society, academia, and the private sector to discuss ending all preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India gave the key note address which highlighted India’s commitment to the Every Newborn Action Plan,

India was the first country to respond to the global Every Newborn Action Plan, launching the India Newborn Action Plan in September 2014. With 56% of under-five deaths taking place in the first month of life in India, this is a priority for us.

The 24 countries participating in the Summit account for nearly 70% of the preventable maternal and child deaths globally.  Prime Minister Modi made a historical announcement during the Summit that Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) has been eliminated in India. The disease is typically transmitted when the umbilical cord is cut in an unsanitary way, killing nearly all infected newborns. This landmark achievement will save the lives of countless mothers and their newborns.

Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, the Minister of Health of Ethiopia urged countries to ensure universal access to healthcare through expansion of health facilities and services to address inequalities and reach the most vulnerable. Ethiopia has set out ambitious goals for equity through the transformation of the health sector.

Other speakers included; Mr. Mark Suzman, President, Global Policy and Advocacy and Country programs, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Mr. Alfonso E. Lenhardt, Acting Administrator, USAID, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director General, WHO-SEARO, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, DGHS, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri C K Mishra, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Launched at the event was the USAID report Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child And Maternal Deaths’ that USAID’s maternal and child survival efforts have resulted in nearly 2.5 million more children surviving and 200,000 maternal deaths averted since 2008 in USAID’s 24 priority countries.

Concluding the two day summit was the signing of the “Delhi Declaration” by 22 member states. The declaration, in support of the Every Woman Every Child movement to take forward the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health, states “We commit to making measurable improvements in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health through our respective country health plans, and, where needed, to develop focused country investment frameworks.” In addition, “We commit ourselves to developing a culture of evidence-based decision-making, strengthening accountability and aligning our resources to those with the greatest need.”

[1] Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia

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