Global Newborn Health Conference

Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre


First-ever global newborn summit puts spotlight on action

15-18 APRIL 2013 | JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Researchers, policy-makers, health professionals and advocates from more than 50 countries came together to focus on accelerating the scale-up of high-impact interventions to address the three leading causes of newborn mortality: prematurity, intrapartum-related complications (“birth asphyxia”) and infections. These three preventable and treatable conditions are responsible for four out of five newborn deaths worldwide.

The Global Newborn Health Conference reviewed progress made tackling preventable newborn deaths, and assessed what can be done to address this challenge in countries where the need is greatest. This first-ever global summit on newborns also represented the “ringing of the start bell” for consultation on the development of a global newborn action plan for newborn survival and better health for women and children.

The conference was hosted by USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), with additional support from John Snow, Inc., the Laerdal Foundation, and Jhpiego.

Demanding urgent action for newborns

On the first day of the summit, incoming PMNCH Board Chair Graça Machel expressed her concern over the lack of urgency to save the roughly three million babies who die each year during their first four weeks of life.

“Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented,” she told conference participants gathered for the opening ceremony, adding that the measures needed to save lives are often simple and cost-effective.

“The issue of newborn health has long been a hidden challenge. However, your presence here today indicates how much this has changed in recent years. The issue of newborn health finally has a space on the global health policy, program and research stage. I am very pleased that a Global Newborn Action Plan is now being developed to move the policy and program agenda forward.”

Incoming PMNCH Board Chair Graça Machel and UN Resident Coordinator Agostinho Zacarias welcome nearly 500 participants to the first-ever Global Newborn Health Conference.

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