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Plan to save newborns will 'change the world'

Malaria is one of the preventable deaths that newborns are susceptible to, like these twins in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision

Malaria is one of the preventable deaths that newborns are susceptible to, like these twins in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision

A new plan to end preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths by 2035 “aims to do nothing less than change the world,” according to Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Margaret Chan.

The Every Newborn Action Plan will require every country to invest in high-quality care before, during and after childbirth for pregnant woman and newborns, and will focus attention on the urgent need to register all births. The Plan paves the way for national implementation and monitoring of action to save the lives of newborns and mothers around the world.

Dr. Chan hailed the Plan as an unprecedented opportunity to take concrete steps to reduce newborn deaths, based on overwhelming evidence of what works.

“The endorsement of the Every Newborn Action Plan is hugely significant. Every year almost 3 million babies die in the first month of life and 2.6 million babies are stillborn,” said Mesfin Teklu, director of maternal and child health, Global Health – WVI. “We know most of these deaths can be prevented through the cost-effective interventions outlined in the Plan.”

The Plan was endorsed by all 194 member-states of the World Health Organization at the World Health Assembly (WHA), after it was delivered to the United Nations debating chamber. Despite that the Plan was presented late during the WHA and several countries sought last minute changes that threatened to derail proceedings, Dr. Chan brokered a compromise that led to the Plan being successfully endorsed.

World Vision contributed to the adoption of the Every Newborn Action Plan by engaging with governments in 31 countries as part of its Child Health Now campaign and through a WHA side event co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Canada and Cameroon.

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