Research, Training, Policy & Global Development, Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health

Safe Mothers & Newborns Workshop Brings Together International Experts Seeking to Accelerate the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality

Most of the estimated 300,000 maternal deaths in 2015 were due to preventable causes and could have been avoided


Maternal mortality is still one of the biggest problems associated with global health inequity. A woman who lives in a low-income or middle-income country is 33 times more likely than a woman living in a high-income country to die from complications associated with pregnancy, childbirth or the postpartum period. Moreover, the vast majority of the estimated 300,000 maternal deaths that occurred in 2015 were due to preventable causes and affected women who belong to the most disadvantaged groups living in developing countries. In addition, there are an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths (foetal deaths) every year. The probability that a child will die in the first five years of life has been halved in the last twenty years. Despite this significant improvement, 6 million children under five died in 2015, almost half of them during the neonatal period (the first 28 days of life, when infants are most vulnerable).

The second edition of the Safe Mothers & Newborns workshop is taking place from 10 to 15 July in Boston, USA. This event brings together more than 60 international experts and leaders in the field of maternal, child and reproductive health from countries that still have a high burden of maternal and neonatal mortality. The aim is to provide a forum to help participants to improve their knowledge and skills in this key area.

To meet the ambitious new targets relating to women’s and children’s health set by the Sustainable Development Goals, efforts in this field must be prioritised and intensified. Reaching the new goals will require, among other factors, great capacity and strong leadership at the local level, particularly in regions where the least progress has been made to date.

Building on an earlier academic collaboration, ISGlobal, the Maternal Health Task Force of the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Aga Khan University have established an academic partnership with the aim of accelerating the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality.

Participants who attend the week-long workshop will improve their knowledge on several topics:

  • The main determinants and global trends in maternal and neonatal mortality
  • Evidence-based interventions for improving maternal and newborn health and survival
  • Metrics for monitoring and evaluating progress, and indicators for assessing the quality and coverage of maternal and newborn health interventions
  • Effective leadership and programme-management strategies for scaling-up successful interventions and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the main funder of this project. The first edition of Safe Mothers & Newborns was held last year in Barcelona and the next one, to be organised by the Aga Khan University, will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2017.

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