Cape Town: Health experts from around the globe called for renewed action to meet the targets of reducing maternal, newborn mortality and stillbirth by 2030 at a conference on maternal and newborn health which concluded here on Thursday (May 12). The global experts who attended the four-day International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC) here sought urgent action for the health of mothers and newborns by leading with evidence, sharing effective implementation strategies, reviewing joint progress, and nurturing collaboration and innovation.
Attendees heard directly from impacted countries, communities, and women about how the current plateau in progress affects real lives.
It’s about accountability, and this is something that we all must take responsibility over. We work in environments where a lot of women and families are not empowered, said Dr Queen Dube, the Chief of Health Services for the Ministry of Health Malawi and AlignMNH Steering Committee Co-chair.
The IMNHC was hosted by the Government of South Africa and AlignMNH — a global initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, and World Bank.
Approximately 1,700 delegates from 96 countries, including 28 official country delegations, participated in more than 200 sessions focused on accelerating progress and fostering solutions for maternal and newborn health.
New data and goals proposed by the launch of the first-ever joint Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) and Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) progress report improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirth showed that progress in improving survival has stagnated since 2015.
The report, which was released at the conference, detailed how 4.5 million women and babies die every year during pregnancy, childbirth, or the first few weeks after birth – mostly from preventable causes.
The findings from the report will help the community align global partnerships and investments to accelerate subnational efforts and progress at the country level.
Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and AlignMNH Steering Committee Co-chair said,
We need to ensure that we are not reducing investments in health and social sectors, and reorient towards primary health care that delivers for maternal, newborn, and child health.
Dr Banerjee said,
By bringing services closer to the community and the people, and ensuring that they are provided with quality care, we can prevent many of the complications that we are dealing with now or identify and address them at an earlier stage.
USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Dr Atul Gawande said,
To save lives, we must strengthen the quality of care — not just by investing in individuals and their skills and in commodities. But by also investing in the teams who deliver care and the systems in which they deliver it.
Many emerging solutions to the multi-faceted problems presented were on display at the Technical Marketplace, including innovations in mobile imaging, AI-powered ultrasounds, and new clinical interventions.
One such promising intervention “E-MOTIVE” released new results from a study that found accurate measures of blood loss using a simple, low-cost blood measurement drape, and applying comprehensive WHO-recommended treatments, resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in bleeding, which means women were far less likely to die.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Deputy Director of Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Dr Jeffrey Smith said,
What got us here is not going to necessarily get us there. We have to continue to evolve systems and health services. That’s why this conference is so important because this community needs to continue to learn and evolve as we reduce mortality. If current trends persist, more than 60 countries are not set to meet the maternal, newborn and stillborn mortality reduction targets in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.
According to the Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth’ report produced by the WHO, UNICEF and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) — the world’s largest alliance for women, children, and adolescents, which was also launched here, an estimated 13.4 million babies were born pre-term in 2020, with almost half (45 per cent) of them being born in just five countries — India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, and Ethiopia.
The report highlighted that pre-term birth rates have not changed in the past decade in any region of the world and that the “four Cs” — conflict, climate change, COVID-19, and the cost-of-living crisis — heighten threats for the most vulnerable women and babies in all countries.
The global preterm birth rate was 9.9 per cent in 2020, compared to 9.8 per cent in 2010.
An estimated 13.4 million babies were born pre-term in 2020, with nearly one million dying from preterm complications, which is equivalent to around one in 10 babies born early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) worldwide.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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