Neonatal Alliance – Celebrating 2013, Looking Towards 2014

The following blog post was adapted from The Neonatal Alliance’s Newsletter.

2013 has been an intense year for the Neonatal Alliance in its eagerness to strengthen initiatives to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean, and to share these experiences globally.

In conjunction with PAHO/ WHO and national governments from both Latin America and the Caribbean, the Neonatal Alliance participated in the midterm evaluation of the Regional Strategy and Plan of Action within the Continuum of Maternal, Newborn and Child Care. In these meetings it was determined that the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries have developed Plan of Actions incorporating evidence based interventions, however there is still progress to be made in the implementation of these interventions to reach the most vulnerable populations.

Likewise, the Alliance supported countries in their initiative to form trainers through the basic newborn resuscitation program Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) and the standardization and information exchange in the program implementation of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). A virtual KMC Community of Practice was developed to strengthen this intervention, allowing more than 2000 people from the region to share their experiences and to achieve a consensus on indicators used to measure the impact of programs.

Additionally, the Neonatal Alliance participated in meetings and provided technical assistance for global initiatives supporting neonatal health in the continuum of maternal and child health, including:

  • The United Nations Commission on Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children’s Health under the Every Woman, Every Child Initiative, identified 13 essential commodities/ equipment to recommend to governments to improve their availability to reduce maternal newborn, and child mortality. Four of the commodities/ equipment are related to newborn health care: corticosteroids for preterm labor, resuscitation equipment, injectable antibiotics for neonatal sepsis treatment, and topical chlorhexidine, for the prevention of umbilical cord infection and sepsis.
  • A Promise Renewed meeting joined together 26 Ministries of Health from Latin American and the Caribbean and 7 international partners, all of whom signed the Panama Declaration to accelerate the prevention of maternal and newborn deaths until 2035. The statement is a call to action to end the inequities affecting the health of mothers and children, including ethnicity, economic status, and other conditions that limit access to health services.
  • In October, the KMC Experts Consultation held in Istanbul, Turkey, where the international community recognized that an estimated 450,000 premature babies could be saved each year if the intervention reached universal coverage. Possible mechanisms for implementation and wider country level dissemination of the KMC practice were discussed, and soon the World Health Organization will issue a related technical document. In November, the Alliance also participated in the First International Scientific Kangaroo Mother Care meeting in Bogota, Colombia. Through workshops on indicators measurement and various panels, the meeting served as a forum for the exchange of information and experiences. As you are aware the Neonatal Alliance actively promotes the practice of KMC.
  • The Latin America and the Caribbean Neonatal Alliance supports countries in the region in their initiative to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality through: the exchange of information from regional, national, and local experiences; the dissemination of cost effective evidence- based interventions; technical assistance; and advocacy for the newborn and mother.
  • The Alliance has become a forum for coordination, through the development of the Neonatal Alliance toolkit. Covering the regional group’s experiences from the formation stage through sustainability, the toolkit recommends specific actions to create and strengthen similar groups, and features 3 country case studies: The Neonatal Alliance of El Salvador, The Collective for Neonatal Health of Peru and The Safe Birth and Motherhood Committee of Bolivia. The toolkit’s objective was to consolidate lessons learned from these experiences to facilitate the strengthening of other alliances and/ or create a forum for countries in which a national Alliance does not yet exist. This document is now available in websites including K4Health,, and the Healthy Newborn Network (which hosts the Alliance Website), among others. We are pleased to report that in addition to the existing national neonatal alliances, Haiti has formed its Neonatal Alliance, formally commencing their activities in October. Barbados and Paraguay are also working to formalize national alliances.
  • In June, Neonatal Alliance members attended the annual regional meeting of Latin America and the Caribbean to review the Annual Plan of Action, to share country experiences (including progress of the KMC network), to present current events and provide regional updates, as well as to welcome new members, such as World Vision and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia.
  • In 2014, with the support of the entire membership and with the goal of supporting interventions that reach every newborn at the regional level, the Alliance will continue collaboration efforts with existing national alliances and with groups in the formation stage. Members will also support the formation of alliances in other countries in the region.
  • The Alliance will continue its efforts to make scientific evidence based interventions addressing the principle causes of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality (basic newborn resuscitation, Kangaroo Mother Care and management of neonatal sepsis) more accessible for providers of health services and at the community level. Furthermore, an annual meeting for follow up will be conducted regarding the agreed upon regional indicators and national plans. We look forward to your participation.
  • Aligned to the Regional Strategy and Plan of Action for Newborn Health, the Neonatal Alliance has participated and will continue as a member of the technical advisory group by reviewing The Every Newborn Action Plan, which seeks to further reduce neonatal mortality globally. The plan focuses on the link between maternal and neonatal health interventions that can be applied during delivery through the first 24 hours of life to achieve the greatest impact on newborn health. Driven by international cooperation among various governments, the private sector and civil society, this document will be presented in May 2014 at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and will seek endorsement by Ministers of Health. The draft action plan is now open for public consultation on the WHO. The comment period will be closed February 28th, 2014.

In this sense, the Neonatal Alliance has set the following targets in the year 2014: intensify efforts to reduce newborn deaths, particularly due to infection; develop strategies for monitoring newborn mortality; improve further the uptake and use of antenatal corticosteroids; review the first postnatal consultation norms so the first visit occurs within 48 hours (in health facilities and at the community level) and; continue the expansion of interventions such as HBB and KMC.

As you can see, there is much to be done and each and every one of us has an important role to fill in order to meet our goals. We thank you for actively participating in the construction and expansion of our Neonatal Alliance, and for making it possible to reach the goals that lie ahead.
We would like to reaffirm our commitment to the right of every newborn to quality care and interventions to guarantee their health and full potential for development, as an act of justice and solidarity, and to fill our continent with their smiles.

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