In recent decades, maternal and neonatal health has improved considerably in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, this progress has been highly inequitable due to persistent differences among countries and among social and ethnic groups. In addition to these inequalities, the region faces other specific challenges related to teenage pregnancy and sexual and reproductive rights (including sexual education and efforts to curb unsafe abortion), which must be prioritised in order to improve the health and well-being of women, adolescents and children.
Against this backdrop, the first regional edition of the Safe Mothers and Newborns leadership workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean took place from 27 May to 1 June at the Spanish Cooperation Training Centre in Antigua (Guatemala). The workshop was organised in collaboration with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Latin American Center for Perinatology, Women's and Reproductive Health of the Pan American Health Organisation (CLAP SMR - PAHO / WHO). Other important regional stakeholders such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF also participated.
The workshop’s co-directors, Ana Langer and Clara Menéndez, commented: “After three international editions of the workshop, this new edition for Latin America and the Caribbean has given us an opportunity to update our knowledge of maternal and neonatal health issues, to share our experiences, to strengthen our leadership, and to forge links between public decision-makers, heads of health programmes and services, representatives of civil society, and regional officials.”
Extensive regional participation
This first regional edition of the Safe Mothers and Newborns workshop brought together 60 participants from 17 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay). The participants had a wide range of profiles: officials and decision-makers from health ministries, employees of non-governmental organisations, representatives of United Nations agencies, and staff of academic and research institutions working in the field of maternal and neonatal health.
Previous editions of Safe Mothers and Newborns have been held in Barcelona, Boston and Nairobi. The workshop is organised by an academic consortium coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in collaboration with the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Aga Khan University. Another regional workshop targeting French-speaking Africa will be held in Rabat (Morocco) in October 2018.