Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsJOY LAWN: Welcome to Week 4 of our course. And in this week, we'll be looking at newborns and stillbirths. My name is Joy Lawn, and I'm a professor of reproductive, maternal, and child health here at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. But I've actually spent most of my life in Africa. I've spent the last 20 years working on both data, and evidence, and trials around this topic. And was actually born in Uganda, in a bush hospital with no running water and no electricity. So I should probably have been either a stillbirth or a newborn death in Africa.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsIn our journey so far through this course, we have looked to adolescents with the mantra that every adolescent should have a healthy transition to reach their potential. We've looked at reproductive health with the mantra that every birth should be wanted. We've looked at maternal health with the mantra that every pregnancy should be healthy. Every woman should have a right to survive. And here, we're going to look at the newborn and the stillbirths. And yet, there isn't a very clear mantra. Newborns are relatively new on the global agenda-- stillbirths still stillborn. So the exciting change during the SDG era has been the Every Newborn Action Plan.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsThis was signed by every single country and about 80 different organisations at the World Health Assembly in 2014. And now, more than 90 countries are regularly tracking their progress. Dozens of countries have a target for newborn death reduction. Yet, very few have added a target for stillbirth reduction. So in the 10 years that we've got left before those targets have to be met, we have an opportunity and a challenge for change. In this week, we will learn about where those deaths occur. When, and why? What the main causes are around the world. And importantly, we will learn about what we can do to change those. One of the myths around stillbirths is that they're not preventable.

Skip to 2 minutes and 34 secondsYet, most of those deaths, as well as the newborn deaths, can be prevented. As we go forward, we will also see that there is stigma around deaths. And the stigma often comes back onto the poorest women who are most at risk. They are not able to talk about stillbirths or newborn deaths. There are long-term effects on their mental health. We hope that during this week, you will learn both new head knowledge, but also new understanding of these important topics, what we know, and what we must do. Thank you.

Welcome to Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of the course, titled ‘Newborns and Stillbirths’. I’m Professor Joy Lawn, Director of the MARCH Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and leader for this week of the course.

In terms of the global agenda, newborns are just that: newborn on the global agenda. As such, this is an exciting time with increasing momentum and potential for major progress if we act on the data we have. Stillbirths, on the other hand, remain invisible, or stillborn on the global agenda. What can be done differently to ensure that progress for preventing neonatal deaths and stillbirths catches up with that for maternal and child mortality?

What will we learn?

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • Recognise where newborns and stillbirths fit in the global health agenda
  • Understand where, when and why neonatal deaths and stillbirths occur
  • Consider the latest data to inform decision-making.

Structure and content

The week will start by defining the relevant epidemiological terms, examining the latest numbers of neonatal deaths and stillbirths, and look forward to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets of 2030. We’ll look at the data on where, when, and why these deaths occur, and how trends can inform and accelerate progress.

Activities will then reflect on preterm birth, the leading cause of child death, in more detail, looking at what we can do to prevent it and how to manage it when it does occur. We’ll look to the future and how evidence links to policy and political change, highlighting the Every Newborn Action Plan, and end by exploring the success of scaling up care for small and sick newborns in India.

We hope you find the week stimulating and very much look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

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This video is from the free online course:

Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine