Zulfiqar Bhutta | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 21, 2015

Background: Countdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival is a global movement to track, stimulate and support country progress and accountability towards achieving the health-related MDGs, particularly goals 4 and 5. The final Countdown report is being launched at GMNHC 2015.

Methods: Countdown’s conceptual model is based on the results-based evaluation framework: a pathway through which policy, systems and financing measures in a given context impact levels, trends and equity patterns in coverage of proven RMNCH interventions. Summary measures, cross-cutting analyses, and country case studies use a range of data including interagency estimates (mortality, immunization, water and sanitation), nationally representative surveys, global health expenditure data, and policy information from WHO surveys.

Results: The final Countdown report celebrates the success of the MDGs in mobilizing commitment and action to achieve results for women and children. It analyzes how health policy, systems development and financial inputs contribute to expanding coverage of key evidence-based interventions. It assesses current levels and trends in coverage of proven interventions along the RMNCH continuum of care, presents new evidence on quality of care, and highlights successes in reducing inequity by reaching the poorest and most vulnerable populations. It explains how and why some Countdown countries have made progress while others have lagged behind, by examining key determinants of coverage including contextual factors. Throughout the report, findings from cross-cutting research and concrete country examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America illustrate strategies by which resource-constrained countries have increased access to care and reduced mortality.

Conclusion: Tracking a core set of indicators enables assessment of progress towards global goals and stimulates action to address identified gaps. Complementing summary measures of progress with rigorous, in-depth assessments at country level helps to identify lessons learned on how to reach success that can be applied in other settings.