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Every Newborn Action Plan: development and five strategic objectives

Listen to Dr Kim Dickson discuss the Every Newborn Action Plan and its five strategic objectives.
KIM DICKSON: Good day! My name is Dr. Kim Eva Dickson. I’m a public health physician from Ghana. I’m the senior advisor for maternal newborn health for UNICEF, and I’m based in New York. I’m also the co-chair of the Every Newborn Action Plan partnership, a group of partners that work together to develop and plan for countries to work towards the reduction of newborn mortality. I’m from a culture where we do not name our babies until the seventh day of life. This is based on the fact that we believe that many babies will die within the first week of life, and therefore, we wait to see if they will live. And after the seventh day, only then do we name them.
During those seven days, baby is called by the name of the day on which they were born. I’m sure many of you have heard of Kofi Annan. He was the Secretary General of the United Nations. Kofi basically means a boy who was born on a Friday. So the Secretary General himself, along with many others of my culture, are not given a name until the seventh day. Why do we expect a child to be born only to die? So it’s based on this that I have been motivated to work together with partners to give guidance to countries that we can reduce newborn mortality.
We can prevent babies dying, and therefore, we have worked on an action plan that provides this guidance to countries. I will now tell you about the Every Newborn Action Plan process and the plans for implementation and action. Thank you. I’ll talk about the process of development and outline the five strategic objectives. The vision of the Every Newborn Action Plan is a world in which there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is celebrated, and mothers and babies and children thrive and reach their social and economic potential. Around this vision, partners have mobilised to work together to achieve this vision.
There are five strategic objectives of this Every Newborn Action Plan, and I’ll give examples of two milestones. Plan development has been a process of real collaboration, of partners working together globally and within countries to move together for action for newborns. As we started in about May 2012 with the development of the Born Too Soon report that really focused on newborns. And then, in June, there was a call to action for child survival. This is A Promise Renewed, which we built upon. Again, in November 2012, The World Prematurity Day mobilised several partners together, within countries and globally, to give a voice to the work of prematurity. The real action was in April, 2013, around the Johannesburg Newborn Conference in South Africa.
And over a period of 2013, up until the 2014– the beginning of 2014, there were a series of global and country consultations to really work with partners, stakeholders, governments, policy makers, to begin to understand what was needed in the development of the Every Newborn Action Plan, to get the evidence that was needed to ground the Every Newborn Action Plan. This all resulted in the publication of a Lancet series in May 2014, and a WHA, World Health Assembly, resolution and endorsement of the action plan in May 2014 and, eventually, the launch of the action plan. So a series of events, a series of collaborations.
This has really been a process that shows that by engaging together with partners, we can move from evidence to policy and now to action within countries.
The global Newborn Action Plan has a particular focus, and this is based on the evidence. And the particular focus is around the time of birth, around providing quality care for the mother and the newborn during labour, around the time of birth, and in the first week of life. The evidence shows us that if we focus on this time, we can save two of– we can save at least two million lives per year if we provide universal coverage of quality care. We can save mothers lives. We can save newborn lives, and we can prevent stillbirths. The strategic objectives of the Every Newborn Action Plan. We have five strategic objectives.
Objective 1 really is about strengthening and investing care during labour, birth, the first day, and the first week of life because the evidence tells us this is the time when we can make the greatest impact. Objective 2 is really about improving the quality of care for mothers and for newborns. Objective 3 is about reaching every woman and every newborn, really focusing, also, on the most marginalised, the most vulnerable, and the most disadvantaged so that we can reduce inequities. So this applies to every country, not just the high burden, but even countries that have low mortality to reach out to those that have been previously left behind.
Objective 4 is how we engage and work and harness the power of parents, families, and communities so that, working together, we can really make a difference for mothers and newborns. And objective 5 emphasises the importance of counting every newborn. Unless we count every newborn, unless we pay attention to those that die as soon as they’re born, unless we account for those that never make it to life– this is the stillbirths– and really focus on measurement, programme tracking, and we hold ourselves accountable, we will not make a difference for mothers and for newborns. This is the Every Newborn Action Plan and the five strategic objectives. Thank you.

The Every Newborn Action Plan was endorsed by all the world’s countries at the World Health Assembly 2014, but where did it come from? How was it developed? In this and the subsequent step we are led through its conception and content by Dr Kim Dickson, a Senior Maternal and Newborn Advisor at UNICEF who was closely involved in the plan’s development and implementation.

The plan’s five strategic objectives are:

  1. Strengthen and invest in care during labour, birth and the first day and week of life
  2. Improve the quality of maternal and newborn care
  3. Reach every woman and newborn to reduce inequities
  4. Harness the power of parents, families and communities
  5. Count every newborn through measurement, programme-tracking and accountability.

The next step highlights two examples of action resulting from the plan.

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