How can we reduce newborn mortality along the continuum of care?

The continuum of care refers to the integration of health services throughout the lifecycle, accessed at the appropriate time and place.

An effective continuum of care connects essential maternal, newborn, and child health packages throughout adolescence, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal and newborn periods, building upon their natural interactions throughout the lifecycle. To do this, we must strengthen the linkages between the home, first-level facilities, and hospitals, assuring that appropriate care is easily accessible. Newborn health is a sensitive marker of a functional continuum of care because of its reliance on strong linkages between maternal and child health programs and minimizing delays in care for birth complications and sick newborns. There is a robust evidence base for packages of essential interventions that can save the lives of mothers and newborns. These proven interventions are highly cost effective when delivered within the continuum of care.

Care of small and sick newborns

In order to achieve SDG 3 (to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) focus is needed in improving care for every newborn, mainly in those who are born small (from prematurity or intrauterine growth restriction) or become ill. These babies are at high risk of dying or becoming disabled.

Breastfeeding & feeding of small and sick newborns

Breastfeeding provides newborns with the nutrients they need and is one of the most effective ways to ensure that newborns survive and are healthy. Appropriate breastfeeding and lactation support services could save about one million child lives.

Antenatal care

In addition to obstetrical issues, antenatal care includes other clinical interventions, as well as counseling and education on birth preparedness, danger signs and appropriate response, key practices, and family planning.

Childbirth care

Care during childbirth refers to how health care workers interact with mothers during and just after labor.

Postnatal care

The postnatal period is when most maternal and infant deaths occur. High-quality postnatal care should model best practices as described in WHO guidelines.

First-time parents

The transition to becoming a parent for the first time is a time of rapid changes (sexual debut, first pregnancy, marriage, first birth, learning to care for a newborn), often within the space of a year. These first-time parents often navigate these life milestones with varied support from their family, community, and the health system, with adverse health outcomes.

Reproductive health & family planning

Family planning benefits more than just those who utilize it; it is also vital to newborn health and survival. Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies is associated with a reduced risk of complications and adverse newborn outcomes.


HIV is most commonly transmitted from mother to child prenatally, through labor, or postnatally during breastfeeding.