Newborn Numbers: Supporting data use to improve monitoring and accountability for newborn health

Globally child mortality has almost halved in a generation, and we see breakthroughs even in the poorest countries. While the highest burden countries have made progress, many remain far from universal coverage for most essential interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition. In January, the Countdown to 2030 report was published, synthesizing data on the current situation and trends in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition from a wide array of sources, including the profiles of the Countdown priority countries. These 81 countries together account for 95% of maternal deaths and 90% of deaths among children under age 5. Newborn mortality and numbers need specific attention given neonatal deaths accounted for 46 per cent of all under-five deaths in 2015, increasing from 41 per cent in 2000.

A key factor in changing the trajectory for newborn survival is accessing and utilizing the most recent numbers – mortality, coverage of care, funding, human resources. Reliable and current data can be used to demonstrate the need to tackle this problem and identify where the gaps remain. For example, we know what interventions that work to save newborns; yet, coverage of these high-impact interventions for newborns remains low in many countries. It is critical that we use these numbers relating to newborn survival to raise awareness about these gaps as well as to link data on newborn health to other factors, such as fertility, health worker density and health expenditure.

As part of the effort to strengthen country analytical capacity to collect and use data, the Healthy Newborn Network’s Newborn Numbers page was established in 2014 to serve as a central location to access the latest global, regional, and national estimates related to newborn health. It provides the most recently published data relating to newborn survival and health – including under-5, neonatal and maternal mortality, stillbirths, cause of death, preterm birth rates, coverage of interventions, health financing and contextual data. All of this data is already in the public domain but it is on multiple websites and in many peer-review journals. Newborn Numbers consolidates this information – providing up-to-date global, regional and country level data on newborn survival and health as well as a list of key resources for the  data.

The Newborn Numbers page houses a comprehensive database that can be downloaded with an extensive list of indicators for 197 countries. An interactive data visualization tool on HNN, launched in 2016, also allows users to easily and quickly make graphs with over 50 newborn related indicators. The multi-dimension query functionality of the tool makes it easy to select multiple indicators and countries. You can also download a subset of data into Excel to create your own graphs. The heat maps visually demonstrate cross-country comparisons of indicators.

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