The Every Woman, Every Newborn supplement consists of nine paper in BioMed Central Pregnancy and Childbirth providing in depth analyses on the specific challenges to scaling up high-impact interventions and improving quality of care for mothers and newborns. A launch event hosted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) took place on Friday, September 11, 2015 with over 50 participants in person and over 120 who joined online.
Professor Joy Lawn, a pioneer for maternal and newborn health, opened the meeting with a compelling overview of the progress she has witnessed in her career which began in the 1990’s while she was working as a neonatologist in Africa. According to the A Promise Renewed Progress Report, more children are surviving their first days and years of life thanks to the scale-up of high-impact newborn and child survival interventions and the strengthening of the health systems that deliver them. However, there is still work to be done. The recently published Levels and Trends in Child Mortality report estimates, almost 1 million neonatal deaths occur on the day of birth, and close to 2 million die in the first week of life.
“We have unfinished business. We are moving in to the time of birth, moving to a time where things are being done differently” said Dr. Kim Dickson, Senior Advisor for Maternal and Newborn Health at UNCIEF who is known for her extraordinary work on behalf of newborns globally. Dr. Dickson provided an overview of the Every Woman, Every Newborn series, which is a nine paper series that goes beyond the numbers and looks at why and how we can improve newborn health. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) include the newborn mortality target proposed in the Every Newborn Action Plan: by 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births. To achieve this, 29 countries will need to double their current rate of reduction. Dr. Dickson highlighted that a stillbirths target is missing in the SDG and said that they are still working hard to ensure stillbirths are not left uncounted.
Several key authors from the supplement presented their work, discussing programme-relevant analyses of the challenges and solutions to health system bottlenecks using data from 12 high-burden countries. Overviews of the paper series were presented by Dr. Gaurav Sharma, Dr. Christabel Enweronu-Laryea, and Sarah Moxon. Professor Joy Lawn also presented the Every Newborn Action Plan measurement improvement roadmap, an ambitious plan drawing on analysis and multi-partner inputs, to improve metrics and accountability for mothers and newborns. Closing remarks were given by Professor Peter Piot, Director of the LSTHM congratulating the authors for their work integrating the maternal and newborn health with practical interventions going beyond the typical health system interventions, such as including breastfeeding into the series.