October 14, 2015

Welcome to the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference!

Written by Ana Langer, Koki Agarwal and Joy Riggs-Perla


On behalf of the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program, and Saving Newborn Lives at Save the Children, we are thrilled to welcome you to the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference here in Mexico City!

Just last month, the UN General Assembly voted to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN Secretary-General launched the Global Strategy 2.0 for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health. This conference provides you — researchers, implementers, policymakers, and donors — the opportunity to discuss and strategize how we meet these ambitious goals. Though much progress has been made in maternal and newborn health — and we have many reasons to celebrate — we recognize the gravity of our task: unacceptable levels of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity still impede the realization of healthy and sustainable societies.

In bringing together the newborn and maternal health communities, we recognize that the health of women before conception, during pregnancies and around the time of birth is critical for maternal survival and is inextricably linked with newborn survival and the prevention of stillbirths. We hope participants will consider how integrated maternal and newborn health care for all can be delivered through the household to hospital continuum, without compromising quality of care and the rights of all women and children.

It is fitting that we have these important conversations in Mexico, a country that has taken great strides to improve the health of mothers and newborns. The Mexican Government has pioneered successful policies and programs to improve mothers’ and babies’ health through innovative financing, addressing issues of equity, and elevating the status of women. We thank the Secretariat of Health of the Government of Mexico for supporting this conference, and look forward to continued collaboration with the many leading academic organizations, international and local NGOs and professional organizations in Mexico that have played a significant role in advancing the maternal and newborn health agenda.

Over the next few days, you will have the opportunity to meet individuals who have made key contributions to maternal and newborn health all over the world. The sharing of scientific, technical and programmatic knowledge is crucial if we hope to meet our ambitious goals by 2030. No progress, though, will occur without partnership. As attendees, you represent 418 organizations across 74 countries. We hope that you leave this conference empowered to collaborate, think innovatively, and return to your homes ready to act.

The work we will do here is essential. Thank you for joining us and being part of this conference. Together, we will improve the health of mothers and newborns, and find ways to bring about real change for families, communities and societies across the globe.


Ana Langer
Director, Maternal Health Task Force, Women and Health Initiative • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Koki Agarwal
Director, USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program • Jhpiego

Joy Riggs-Perla
Director, Saving Newborn Lives • Save the Children