The Every Newborn Action Plan, endorsed by at the World Health Assembly in 2014, provides a road map of strategic actions for ending preventable newborn mortality and stillbirth. The coverage targets and milestones in 2014 set out a clear path to 2020 with the understanding that new interim targets would be agreed depending on progress.
On September 3, 2020, the Every Newborn Partnership, led by WHO and UNICEF, launched the launched the new Every Newborn 2025 targets and milestones. The launch event presented the four Every Newborn Coverage Targets to 2025 and nine corresponding Milestones by 2025. The event provided a practical discussion between Ministries of Health and partners on how to sustain and improve access to high-quality maternal and newborn health services and essential health services to protect the lives and health of women and children. Increased coverage of care for four targets by 2025 is essential to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, and the attainment of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, and universal health coverage for all.
Serving as moderator, Femi Oke announced that the new Every Newborn targets and milestones are a critical update to celebrate. She introduced the first two speakers as the heads of UN agencies, who are committed to newborn health: Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General and Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF. In addition to launching the new targets, they also launched the Small and Sick Newborn Standards and Guidelines. Both highlighted the need to accelerate action for newborn health, even as COVID-19 threatens to turn back the hard-won progress we have made.
Ms. Fore reaffirmed UNICEF’s commitment to Every Newborn by reminding the audience that UNICEF was at the beginning and will remain committed to the partnership. She called on government leaders need to lead the effort and partners need to be coordinated and listen to front line health workers and women and families. Dr. Tedros laid out the tragic burden of 2.5 million newborn death and more than 2 million stillbirths every year. Despite these appallingly high numbers, stillbirths and neonatal deaths receive the lowest investment of all funding to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. If current trends persist, 25 million newborns will die globally between now and 2030. He called on all stakeholders to engage and do their part.
A panel of global experts presented the new coverage targets and milestones, including the rationale behind them, how they were determined and what they mean. Dr Anshu Banerjee (WHO) shared that 73 countries report a national target for neonatal mortality but only 28 do for stillbirth. He observed that the faster progressing low- and middle-income countries have a policy in place for newborn health, a newborn health focal point in within the Ministry of Health and continuous training on newborn competences. He elevated the issue of stillbirths being left behind, as it was not included in the SDGs, however, there are targets for ending preventable stillbirths as part of Global Strategy and Every Newborn, two World Health Assembly resolutions. He announced that the updated stillbirth estimates will be published in October, and the hope more countries will add targets to national plans He also echoed the need to accelerate the reductions in mortality if we are to meet the SDG targets by 2030 by increasing coverage, improving quality and reaching the unreached. Professor Joy Lawn (LSHTM) presented the targets and outlined the consultative process for setting them, including alignment with other plans, consultation with experts, building on the evidence and using data to drive ambition. She acknowledge that the year 2020 has made those who are most vulnerable, even more vulnerable, including mothers and babies. One million babies die on their day of birth. She called for more investment in maternity care and it has the greatest return on investment – lives saved for women, stillbirths and newborns. Dr. Allisyn Moran (WHO) gave an overview of the indicators presented in the Every Newborn action plan as well as additional indicators added since, including the Every Newborn Metrics Roadmap. Without data we cannot drive change, and we already have some great data to work with and tools to improve measurement. She shared about some of the WHO and partners are doing to support measurement of newborn and perinatal indicators. Dr. Luwei Pearson (UNICEF) presented the nine milestones set out to accelerate progress for ending preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths. During the Q&A, these speakers emphasized the need for countries to lead and the first step is to have a target. “If you don’t have a target, you won’t hit it” said Joy. They were all asked what were the primary health system gaps preventing progress such as data systems and human resources; though there was agreement that different countries will have different bottlenecks.
The next session was a national leadership panel from country-level champions for newborn health including Dr Martina Baye, Ministry of Health Cameroon, Dr Charles Mwansambo, Ministry of Health Malawi, Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, Ministry of Health Ghana, Professor Mohammod Shahidullah, Department of Neonatology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. All four countries adapted national level newborn plans from the global Every Newborn Action Plan and invested in the implementation of these plans. Isabella Sagoe-Moses shared that they realized that their first action plan did not focus enough on caring for newborns in health facilities, especially small and sick newborns. In their second newborn action plan (2019-2023), they have shifted focus to improve care of small and sick newborns. Martina Baye also shared that they need to better address the news for small and sick newborns, including emphasis on KMC in the GFF investment care. They completed the session with a dynamic discussion of sharing what has worked or not in their countries for newborn health.
The session closed with 16 statements of commitment from partners pledging their support of the coverage targets and milestones and their commitment to supporting countries to meet them.
Alphabetical order for the Commitment statements from Partners to support countries to meet the targets & milestones
- Honourable HELEN CLARKE
Chair, PMNCH Board (by video)
- Dr ERROL ALDEN
President, International Pediatrics Association
- Dr ANN BURTON
Chief of Public Health, UNHCR
- FRANKE CADEE
President, International Confederation of Midwives
- ALISON GREER
Advisor, Interagency Working Group for Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG) Secretariat
- Dr SALLY GOZA
President, American Academy of Pediatrics
- DR ANNEKA KNUTTSON
- TORE LAERDAL
President, Laerdal Global Health
- SUSANNAH HOPKINS LEISHER
Chair, International Stillbirth Alliance
- Dr LESLIE MANCUSO
President & CEO, Jhpiego
- BETSY MCCALLON
CEO, White Ribbon Alliance
- Dr AMY POLLACK
Director, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Dr PAUL SPIEGEL
Director, John Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health
- Dr MESFIN TEKLU TESSEMA
Senior Technical Director for Health,
International Rescue Committee
- Dr KAREN WALKER
President, Council of International Neonatal Nurses
- Dr STEVE WALL
Director, Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children
Social media recorded 485 posts, 346 users, 5,101 likes, and reached over 31 million unique users using #EveryNewborn.
Access the recording of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naR99Xsf2Nw