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Summary of Week 4

Summary of the week's learning and key issues in the health of newborns from Professor Joy Lawn.

We have now reached the end of Week 4. We have learnt that neonatal deaths and stillbirths total almost 6 million each year.

Growing attention for the issue of newborn deaths has been driven by MDG4 (reduce child mortality) since 45% under-five deaths are in the first month of life. 70% of newborn deaths are preventable without intensive care, but progress for reducing these is slower than for maternal or child deaths. Stillbirths were not accounted for as a factor in the MDGs and progress has been even slower in reducing their numbers. Shockingly for over 1 million full-term stillbirths die during labour: a sensitive indicator of quality of care.

Given the huge burden, the effect on families, and national development, there is increasing commitment to change. The Every Newborn Action Plan, supported by all 194 UN member states and already moving fast in many countries, shows that this commitment comes from the grassroots up, not just top down.

To reach targets for ending preventable stillbirths and neonatal deaths by 2030, there are many countries that will have to more than double their current rate of progress. We know there are effective interventions, but we need to act differently. In every region of the world there are countries that have achieved their targets, such as Peru, Bangladesh, Malawi and others. We hope that you will also be part of that change in your country.

In Week 5 we continue our journey through the lifecycle, moving from newborns as they pass the critical one month mark and become infants and children. We’ll learn of the remarkable progress for child survival and the lessons learned from this, highlighting conditions left behind and new threats to child health and development

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

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