Even though Nepal has made remarkable progress in reducing the number of child deaths in recent decades, an estimated 23,000 children still die each year before reaching their fifth birthday, and three out of five babies who die do so within twenty-eight days of birth, that is, during the newborn period (NMICS 2015).
Nepal’s Every Newborn Action Plan (NENAP) will be launched during a ceremony next week, just one week after World Prematurity Day is observed globally. The NENAP presents a vision in which “there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive and reach their full potential.”
The NENAP is an integrated and collaborative effort developed under the joint leadership of the country’s Family Health and Child Health divisions of the Ministry of Health, and guided by the universal health coverage approach adopted by the National Health Policy of 2014. The Plan adopts four strategic directions: equitable utilization of health services, quality for all, a multi-sectoral approach, and reform. It is integrated within the broader National Health Sector Strategy (NHSS, 2015–2020).
NENAP aims to achieve a newborn mortality rate of less than 11 deaths per 1000 live births and a stillbirth rate of less than 13 stillbirths per 1000 total births by 2035. The aim is that these targets be met in all of Nepal’s provinces, which requires addressing the current wide disparities in the utilization of maternal and child health services, depending on place of residence, wealth status, educational attainment, and ethnicity.
NENAP adopts nine strategic objectives, which are anchored in the nine outcomes adopted by NHSS. In particular, there is a focus on universal access and utilization of key evidence-based maternal and newborn interventions around the time of birth and the first few hours of life.
Pasang Devi Tamang is the knowledge management and advocacy coordinator with Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program in Nepal.