Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference opens in Mexico City

More than one thousand policymakers, researchers, practitioners and advocates from 75 countries gathered on Monday in Mexico City for the first Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference.

A statement issued by Mrs Buhle Makamanzi, the Senior Communication officer for Africa, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday, said the meeting marked the first opportunity for the maternal and newborn health communities to strategize on actions needed to achieve the targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which were launched at the UN General Assembly in September.

“Investing in the health and well-being of women and children is one of the smartest things countries can do. It enables them to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve long-lasting benefits for their families, communities and nations,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Extraordinary progress is possible. By working together and integrating our efforts, we can collectively achieve greater impact, enabling more women and children to survive and thrive.”

“We now have the chance to achieve a grand convergence in health—a world where, within a generation, women and children all have the same access to health care and an equal opportunity to survive and thrive, regardless of where they give birth or are born,” said Ariel Pablos-Méndez, USAID assistant administrator for global health.

Mercedes Juan López, Mexico Secretary of Health said: “We must take every opportunity to learn from one another so that the day of birth is a happy occasion for all, no matter who they are or where they live.”

The statement said, globally more women survive pregnancy and childbirth—and more children survive their early years—than ever before. Still, each day, 800 women and 7,400 newborns die from preventable complications related to pregnancy, childbirth and other causes.

It said an additional 7,300 women experience a stillbirth; priority actions to reduce these deaths include increasing access to family planning and modern contraception, as well as quality care in pregnancy and around the time of birth through interventions like skilled birth attendants, exclusive breastfeeding, clean cord care, skin-to-skin contact and drying newborns.

“We know how to save women and newborns,” said Dr Ana Langer, the Director of the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Now we must focus on eliminating disparities and implementing the proven, cost-effective solutions that not only save lives, but create a virtuous cycle that transforms entire communities.”

The Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference would create a global conversation to understand and respond to the most urgent health needs of mothers and newborns, focusing on quality care, integration and equity.

“This conference is all about listening, sharing and learning from the expertise of the ‘implementation scientists’ on the ground,” said Joy Riggs-Perla, director of Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives Project.

“These key managers and providers on the front lines of service delivery and program management often have the best insights. We must listen carefully to what they say about their experience and use this knowledge to refine and shape our work on behalf of women, children and families.”

“Healthy women and newborns contribute to a virtuous cycle whose impact is transformational and critical for sustainable development,” said Koki Agarwal of Jhpiego, director of USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program.

“An unwavering political will and commitment to place women, newborns and children at the heart of development efforts will make possible a prosperous and sustainable future for all.”

Several major reports would be launched at the Conference, including the final Countdown to 2015 report and the mid-initiative report for Savings Mothers, Giving Life.

Hosted by the Secretariat of Health of Mexico and convening partners—Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program and Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives programme

The Conference would discuss strategies for reaching every woman and newborn with high-quality health care and approaches to end preventable maternal and newborn mortality and stillbirths. GNA

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