During the last two decades, the probability of a child dying before reaching the age of five has almost halved. Nevertheless, despite considerable progress, the target for the Millenium Developmental Goal 4 focused on reducing child mortality, has not been achieved. Preventable diseases are still the main cause of mortality among children under 5 and almost half of those deaths occur within the neonatal period. Furthermore, the goal in reducing maternal mortality (MDG 5) is the one where less progress has been made and remains one of the main inequity problems in global health. Because of this, experts in the field consider it a priority to pursue efforts to accelerate progress in these two goals in the post-2015 development agenda, and strong leadership will be required particularly in the regions where less progress has been made.
Based on previous academic collaboration, three institutions with solid expreience in maternal, newborn and child health -ISGlobal, the Maternal Health Task Force of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Aga Khan University- have come together to create a new academic partnership with the goal of accelerating progress in the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality. The first edition of the "Safe Mothers and Newborns" workshop, that took place in Barcelona, Spain, from June 20 to July 3, brought together international experts and leaders in the maternal, child and reproductive health field from countries with a high maternal and neonatal mortality burden, with the aim of increasing knowledge and skills among the participants.
Throughout the workshop, the participants expanded their knowledge on:
- The main causes of maternal and newborn mortality
- The repertoire of evidence-based interventions that improve survival and health of mothers and newborns, particularly during childbirth
- Measures required for the development, implementation and evaluation of maternal, child and reproductive health policies and programs
- Available metrics for the monitoring and evaluation of progress and indicators to evaluate the quality and coverage of interventions in maternal and newborn health
"The most positive aspect is that we have created a network between experts from countries with similar problems. We have shared experiences, learned and discussed, and I am convinced that we are now better prepared to change the current situation" claimed Rudy Lukamba, of the Foundation Women for Africa in Liberia. The next edition of the "Safe Mothers and Newborns" workshop, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be organized by the MHTF/Harvard School of Public Health in june 2016, in Boston, USA.