Blog by Nabila Zaka, UNICEF
June 2016 marks the second anniversary of the launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), endorsed at the 2014 World Health Assembly (resolution WHA67.10). The ENAP was a tangible manifestation of the collective desire of national governments, development partners, civil society and parent groups to end preventable newborn deaths by implementing affordable, high-impact and evidence-based solutions. National milestones and monitoring and evaluation indicators were set out within the plan, guiding systematic progress tracking of country level implementation.
To support countries in achieving the milestones set in ENAP, partners jointly developed a simple tool targeting countries with these highest neonatal mortality rates (NMR) and highest burden of neonatal deaths. The tool aims to support national efforts to assess the status of progress towards achieving the milestones in ENAP, to map technical assistance needs and to identify barriers to implementation. Twenty-eight high burden countries were targeted for data collection. The first tracking tool was developed in 2014 and data was collected from 10 countries. The tool was later revised in June 2015 and sixteen priority countries submitted information by December 2015. Additional countries, including Namibia and Cameroon, took the initiative to use the tracking tool for measuring their own progress.
The report highlights leadership by national governments to bring partners together around the newborn agenda, and builds hope that the landscape for newborns can be changed through concerted efforts across all high burden and high mortality countries. It provides national maternal newborn health factsheets as well as an overview of key achievements and gaps in existing reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programs. The report also highlights planned national and sub-national events focusing on maternal and newborn health, and showcases progress from countries around the seven health system building blocks and ENAP national milestones. Technical assistance needs for each country are detailed, accompanied by country factsheets highlighting maternal and newborn health indicators from global databases.
Establishing a functioning tracking and monitoring system for ENAP implementation aims to support the reporting requirements of WHA resolution WHA67.10. We are pleased that many of the coverage and mortality goals in ENAP are included in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health operational plan and monitoring framework. In addition to these indicators, we encourage countries to focus on key gap areas by setting targets for NMR and stillbirth rate in their RMNCAH plans and strengthening HMIS to include reporting on evidence-based newborn health interventions. Improving community engagement and social accountability is key to build momentum for national action.
Since the launch of ENAP two years ago, many additional countries are using the tool for assessing gaps and measuring progress over time. Thus, we encourage all countries with NMR greater than 10 at national or sub-national levels to use the country progress tracking tool to identify areas of low performance and plan to end preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths.