Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

High-level consultation to accelerate progress on MDGs 4 and 5 in South-East Asia

20 October 2008

Mother holding her infant child

The South-East Asia Region accounts for more than 174 000 maternal and 3.1 million child deaths every year, of which 1.3 million are newborns. The Region faces a great challenge in meeting the targets set out by Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 for reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality.

A high-level consultation was convened by WHO to address the challenges and reach regional consensus on a set of well-defined actions. The aim was to boost countries’ efforts to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 in a sustainable manner through strengthening health systems and using the primary health care (PHC) approach.

The consultation was attended by more than 120 people from almost all countries in the Region. Participants included policy-makers, programme managers, health providers, academics, professional organizations and donors.

It was held in Ahmedabad in the Gujarat state of India, which has achieved good progress on MNCH and serves as a useful model. In addition to the working sessions, visits to 10 field sites were conducted, in both urban and rural settings and to various levels of facility, in order to show successful MNCH interventions in practice.

The consultation provided a forum for discussions and information exchange on MNCH, focusing mainly on the current situation, the progress made, and the remaining barriers towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5.

Dr Elizabeth Mason, Director of WHO's Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (CAH), gave a presentation on the multi-partner initiative "Investing in maternal, newborn and child health: the case for Asia and the Pacific".