Birth is one of the most life-threatening moments we all go through. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 2.9 million babies around the world die in the first month of life! An estimated 2.6 million babies are stillborn and almost 300,000 women die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The reality is that it doesn't have to be that way. A study published in The Lancet -- a top medical journal -- indicates that by 2025, over 2 million lives of babies and mothers could be saved with universal coverage of care, particularly during labour, around birth and the first week of life. Some of these measures are extremely simple and inexpensive. Just ask Melinda Gates about the five ways to save a newborn with less than $5.
So it's a no-brainer: Babies should be born healthy and the world needs to ensure this happens. The good news is that it is: Recently in Geneva, the Every Newborn Action Plan was endorsed by 194 countries at the World Health Assembly. They shared "vision 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 World Health Organization and UNICEF are coordinating efforts on this action plan with a partners from all over the world. But the organizations that are part of the global health hub in Geneva already play a crucial role in implementing and monitoring global health interventions, whether it's on the policy front (WHO), collecting data and monitoring progress (WHO, UNAIDS), financing interventions and strengthening health systems (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) or delivering care on the ground (Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF to name a few).
The public launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan will be in Johannesburg at the end of June. Experts here in Geneva will be working hard with groups and individuals around the world to ensure that the plan is implemented so future generations everywhere are born and grow up healthy.