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Journal Article

Jun 30, 2021

Epidemic | Stillbirths

Galvanizing Collective Action to Accelerate Reductions in Maternal and Newborn Mortality and Prevention of Stillbirths

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Ensuring Maternal and Newborn Health Remains a Priority

Every day, there are an estimated 810 maternal and 7,000 newborn deaths, and more than 5,000 stillbirths, most of which are preventable. While progress has been made in reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality and preventing stillbirths worldwide, inequities and gaps in quality of care persist and are disproportionately most dire in countries affected by conflict. In 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and response exposed multiple system vulnerabilities, exacerbated inequities to accessing care, and caused widespread disruption in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services. Emerging evidence and modeling estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and newborn mortality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reflect a sobering picture of what could lay ahead, with additional deaths estimated to be in the tens of thousands for mothers and hundreds of thousands for stillbirths and children aged under 5 years. A dedicated, focused effort must be made to ensure maternal and newborn health (MNH) and prevention of stillbirths remain a priority.

Key Messages

  • Historically, global efforts to accelerate progress toward achieving health and well-being for women and children have appeared separate, despite the inextricable links among maternal, perinatal, and newborn health outcomes.
  • Accelerating progress demands that the maternal and newborn health (MNH) community more rapidly and effectively share learning, new evidence, and program experiences.
  • A new global initiative, AlignMNH, will establish a country-driven, multidirectional knowledge hub and series of convenings to promote purposeful knowledge sharing and problem solving and align on priorities for action. These efforts are intended to facilitate increased application of evidence and regular review of progress ultimately contributing to improved MNH and prevention of stillbirths.