The promise and potential of Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths

Although remarkable progress has been made in recent decades to reduce the number of child deaths worldwide, too many newborns continue to die each year despite the availability of feasible, evidence-based solutions. Newborn survival and health and prevention of stillbirths were not specifically addressed in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) framework and consequently received less attention and investment. Newborn deaths and stillbirths are reducing at a slower rate than under-5 deaths and maternal deaths. Now is the time for the global health community to prioritize this unfinished agenda.

Today, we have unprecedented opportunities to turn the tide and address newborn health, as far more is known about effective interventions, service delivery channels and approaches to accelerate coverage and quality of care. Recently, renewed commitments to saving newborn lives and preventing stillbirths have been made by many governments and partners in response to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and its accompanying Every Woman Every Child initiative, Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, and to recommendations made by the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health and the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. The much-needed attention specifically for newborn health has triggered multiple stakeholders to propose this Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths.

The action plan sets out a vision of a world 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. Nearly 3 million lives could be saved each year if the actions in the plan are implemented and its goals and targets achieved. Based on evidence of what works, and developed within the framework for Every Woman Every Child, the plan enhances and supports coordinated, comprehensive planning and implementation of newborn-specific actions within the context of national reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health strategies and action plans, and in collaboration with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, professional associations and others. The goal is to achieve equitable and high-quality coverage of care for all women and newborns through links with other global and national plans, measurement and accountability. Strategic objectives and targets to achieve the goal of ending preventable maternal deaths have also been prepared. The objectives are complementary to those of the Every Newborn action plan and intended for coordinated implementation.