Linking in the newborn at the Global Maternal Health Conference

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By: Ashish KC, Program Manager, Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children, Nepal

This post was originally published on the Healthy Newborn Network blog. Reprinted here with permission.

With five years remaining until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, experts, policy makers, donors and academics from around the globe gathered during the Global Maternal Health Conference from August 30-September 1 in Delhi to share their insight, experiences, progress and strategies to reduce the burden of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.

Participants at the Maternal Health Conference 2010 discussed global, regional and national health progress in maternal and newborn health; factors associated with the changes in numbers and the stories behind the numbers; innovative approaches to deliver evidence based interventions within local contexts; standard tools for management and tracking progress and strategies for communicating progress and challenges to stakeholders.

One of the salient features of the conference was a broad discussion of the overlap between newborn health, maternal health and achieving MDG 5. Academics advocated a paradigm shift in the global community for linking evidenced based interventions that improve the health and survival of both mothers and newborns. (Watch Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta present objective evidence for the integration between maternal and newborn health in terms of identifying opportunities for programmatic relevance and scale-up in the conference website)

As the manager of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program in Nepal, I have seen how attention to maternal, child and newborn health has helped my country get on track achieve MDG 4. My presentation on Nepal’s community-based newborn care package highlighted an effective approach for providing catalytic investments to improve newborn health at the country level. The community-based newborn care package is a government lead program that receives technical assistance and catalytic inputs from Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program. The design of the program has enabled the testing, scale up and integration of newborn health interventions into Nepal’s health system. If scaled up nationwide, I believe the program would improve maternal health outcomes in Nepal, as well.

The forum pledged to meet again to disseminate upcoming evidence and progress in maternal and newborn health. I hope it will be an occasion for celebration.

View my presentation and others from Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives team on lessons learned on newborn health advocacy and programs here.

Photo credit: Jonathan Hubschman for Save the Children