Statement from Global Health Council/Family Care International to World Health Assembly, May 2014

In reference to item 14.2 Newborn health: draft action plan 

The Global Health Council and Family Care International fully support the Every Newborn Action Plan. As the documents recognize, newborn mortality is declining at a much slower pace than either maternal or child mortality, globally and nationally. This gap demonstrates that newborn health needs a specific focus within the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health continuum to ensure that interventions for the newborn are incorporated into budgets, training curricula, and commodity systems.

It is also critical, however, that the integral links between maternal and newborn health be recognized. Reductions in newborn mortality cannot be achieved without addressing maternal health and survival, and maternal health cannot be protected without access to reproductive health services. As such, we call on the member states to support the inclusion of the target for ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030 (an average global maternal mortality ratio of 70/100,000) in ENAP, to clearly demonstrate that maternal and newborn health are interlinked and interdependent.

We also call for ENAP to retain its current vision statement, specifically:  “of a world in which there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive, and reach their full potential.”

The phrase “every pregnancy is wanted” is essential to this vision. Some 220 million women want to postpone birth for at least 2 years or stop childbearing, but are not using an effective method of contraception. Addressing this unmet need would reduce unplanned births, abortions, stillbirths, newborn deaths, maternal deaths, and child deaths. Contraception is recognized in para 35 as an essential intervention; reflecting it in the vision statement of ENAP is a crucial acknowledgement of the links to maternal and reproductive health.

 

Statement to be read by one of the following:
Christine Sow, Executive Director, Global Health Council
Ann Starrs, President, Family Care International
Petra ten Hoope-Bender, International Confederation of Midwives