Thursday, 17 April 2008

Global report on MNCH released today

The Countdown to 2015: Tracking Progress in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health report was released today in Cape Town, South Africa, during the opening ceremony of the international ‘Countdown to 2015’ conference, in which delegates from around the world discussed the major headways and obstacles to achieving global maternal and child health by 2015, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5.

The report investigated the maternal, newborn and child health status in 68 key countries around the world, and found that few are making progress in reaching women and children with clinical care services, such as having skilled attendants at delivery or treating children for malaria. Postnatal care is also an important gap in the first week after childbirth when mothers and newborns are at highest risk to illness and complication. Under-nutrition is an area of little or no progress, contributing to more than one-third of deaths in children under five annually. Weak health systems and a lack of data collection and dissemination processes to make timely data more readily available for planning and implementation of MNCH programs are also some of the key obstacles to achieving MDG goals 4 and 5 by 2015.

As such, the report calls for action from policymakers, media practitioners, health workers, activists, and government figureheads to take these crucial steps towards achieving maternal and child health by 2015:

• Sustain and expand successful efforts to achieve high and equitable coverage for priority interventions, including immunizations, vitamin A supplementation, family planning services, and antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care.

• Focus on the priority period within the continuum of care, from pre-pregnancy through 24 months—especially around time of birth.

• Strengthen health systems, focusing on measurable results.

• Set geographic and population priorities—especially targeting sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—and stick to them during MNCH program planning.

• Prioritize programs for equity—programmatic efforts to address inequities must be supported by strong monitoring and evaluation.

• Monitor and evaluate locally-driven implementation research, and act on the results to deliver best practices for each country in regards to MNCH.

For the complete report on ‘Countdown to 2015’ you can visit www.countdown2015mnch.org/reports. Also stay tuned to Development Communication Network’s Media Deliver Now! blog site for further conference updates.

By Amanda Hale

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