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About SickKids

June 30, 2014

SickKids supports the global newborn and child health agenda with launch of Every Newborn Action Plan and Countdown to 2015 report

As the 2015 target deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) quickly approaches, two important platforms have been unveiled that support the tracking of continued progress and provide a framework to further advance maternal, newborn and child health. A global launch was held today to release the Every Newborn Action Plan and the Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014 at the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Partners’ Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

SickKids’ Centre for Global Child Health expert, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, is a lead author and advocate integral to the development of both major international reports and is a featured speaker at the Partners’ Forum. “The Every Newborn Action Plan helps to link the work of all stakeholders, and enables policy makers and others to take action to achieve clear results for newborn survival,” says Bhutta. “The evidence bases of ENAP and Countdown to 2015 are important to enhancing the achievement of wider goals for children’s health in the post-2015 agenda.”

ENAP provides the global health and development community with a roadmap and joint action platform aimed at reducing preventable newborn mortality by 2035. The action plan follows the recent Every Newborn Lancet Series. Countdown to 2015 is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration which includes SickKids, and tracks progress in the 75 countries where more than 95 per cent of all maternal and child deaths occur, including the 49 lowest-income countries. Countdown to 2015 focuses on MDGs 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, identifying knowledge gaps, proposing action strategies and promoting accountability from governments and development partners.

ENAP works to advance the goals of the United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and was endorsed at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 2014.  The plan provides guidance on how to strengthen newborn health components in existing health sector strategies. The launch of the action plan is accompanied by a set of concrete, measurable commitments from stakeholders, including SickKids, in support of the UN Global Strategy.

The Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014 Fulfilling the Health Agenda for Women and Children highlights important progress in many countries and on many pressing health challenges. At the global level, over the 25-year measurement span of the MDGs, maternal and child deaths will have been almost halved. The report highlights the compelling power of high-level commitment, consistent funding, and a focus on evidence-based programming to effect dramatic, life-saving change.

However, as the end of 2015 inaugurates a new era in global health, the global health community will enter that era with “unfinished business” that can and must be addressed. The report notes that moving forward, in setting new goals and accountability structures, like the Every Newborn Action Plan, efforts must be focused where progress has been slowest, including:

  • Ensuring enough adequately trained health care workers equipped to provide high-quality care before, during and after pregnancy.
  • Improving maternal and newborn survival, by investing in care on the day of birth when the risk of mortality is highest.
  • Addressing infectious diseases, especially pneumonia and diarrhoea that needlessly kill millions of children.
  • Confronting the huge burden of undernutrition that affects the lives and opportunities of far too many children.

The Countdown report is summarized in The Lancet, Monday, June 30, 2014.