September 1, 2016

Pediadvocates for Every Newborn

Written by Baby Science Live Coverage Team

Mother and newborn child

From the last trimester, through childbirth, and up to baby’s fifth birthday, more than 5.3 million lives are lost each year – many from preventable causes. Although progress has been made under the UN Millennium Development Goals, neonatal mortality rates remain unacceptably high.

With thousands of pediatric health professionals gathered here in Vancouver, the International Congress of Pediatrics (ICP) is the perfect forum to engage the community of doctors, nurses, and supporting professionals who are at the heart of neonatal, newborn, and child care. We sat down with Mary Kinney of Save the Children to get an update on the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), recent progress in its focus countries, and what the pediatric professional community can do to support the framework.

Coverage Team (CT):  There are many frameworks, plans, and strategies that touch on pediatric health. How is ENAP unique in its importance to the health care professionals gathered at ICP?

Mary Kinney (MK): Every Newborn: an action plan for ending preventable deaths (also often called ENAP) is a roadmap to save 3 million lives of newborns, women and stillbirths each year by improving quality care at the time of birth, and support for small and sick babies.

In 2014, 194 countries officially endorsed the ENAP at the World Health Assembly supported by over 80 partner organizations including IPA. Since then, there have been nearly 100 commitments on newborn health to the Every Woman Every Child movement.

ENAP is unique in that it intentionally was designed as part of the wider effort to improve health for all women and children. The name was intentionally linked to the “Every Woman Every Child” movement, supporting the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. In 2015, the ENAP was integrated into the new Global Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

CT: In your “Spark Talk” at ICP, you mentioned the recent ENAP tracking report released this June. What findings were the most surprising or encouraging from the data you saw this year?  And looking ahead, what does a “home run” look like in terms of what you’d hope to see in 2016’s tracking?

MK: The ENAP tracking report aims to support countries as they monitor their efforts towards the ENAP milestones, and the tool is sent to government and stakeholders in the 28 countries with the highest burden of deaths. Uptake of countries using the tool increased from 10 in 2014 to 18 countries in 2015, which is encouraging on its own. In terms of results, leadership by national governments to bring partners together around the newborn agenda is most encouraging and really required for change.

By 2015, 12 countries developed national newborn action plans and four countries sharpened their RMNCAH plans to incorporate newborn health. Our goal for 2016 – the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy 2.0 – really needs to focus on quality improvement for maternal and newborn health (MNH). The tracking tool revealed that no countries reported having quality improvement MNH guidelines and implementation plans in 2014; and only half of the countries reporting having something in place in 2015.

One promising development is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recently released Quality of Care Framework for Maternal and Newborn Health with accompanying technical standards and guidelines for quality of care. We are hopeful that the roll out of the implementation framework – unlike the development of the framework itself – will provide opportunities to engage women and local stakeholders in the process of defining quality of care.

CT: In an earlier talk this week on the challenges of global child health, Dr. Keith Martin called on pediatricians to use their voices to be advocates with their governments and with local communities. What role can global pediatric health professionals and professional associations play in advocating for successful ENAP implementation at country level? Sub-country level?

MK:  Pediatric health professionals and professional associations are fundamental to the advocacy and implementation efforts of the Global Strategy and ENAP.  Joint statements with other professional associations on high-impact newborn health interventions unite health professionals to promote evidence-based practices. The engagement of national association with newborn health or RMNCH steering committees and civil society coalitions enables health professional voices to be part of the decision-making and ensures accountability among stakeholders. Global advocacy moments such as World Breastfeeding Week (first week August) and World Prematurity Day (November 17) also provide an opportunity for both health professionals and associations to rally around newborn health in order to create awareness, activate the media, engage families, and hold stakeholders in countries and globally accountable to their commitments made to ENAP.

IPA has been at the front of the engagement and promotion of ENAP – including making statements of support at the World Health Assembly in 2014 and 2015 – which is highly valued.