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World Vision calls for action at World Health Assembly on plan to end preventable newborn deaths

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Laura Blank

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Geneva, SWITZERLAND (May 19, 2014) — Remarkable headway has been made in recent decades to reduce the number of child deaths worldwide. However, progress on neonatal mortality has lagged due to less attention and investment. With the knowledge and tools available to avert two-thirds of preventable newborn deaths, World Vision is seeking urgent action from decision makers gathered at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

World Vision’s side event Improving Maternal and Newborn Health: The Importance of Working with Communities on Wednesday, May 21 — organized with the Permanent Missions of Canada and Cameroon — will bring together global health experts and government ministers to discuss the Every Newborn Action Plan.

“Newborn mortality accounts for 44 percent of all deaths among children under five globally, making newborn health a priority for efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and to end all preventable deaths of mothers, babies and children,” says World Vision’s director of maternal and child health, Dr Mesfin Teklu.

“This year presents an opportune moment to tackle the issue through the Every Newborn Action Plan, which is being presented before the World Health Assembly this week for consideration.”

The Every Newborn Action Plan provides governments with a roadmap for a world free from preventable newborn deaths. It defines roles and responsibilities, provides costed recommendations for action based on proven strategies, and includes time bound targets and indicators through to 2035.

“A key dimension of the Every Newborn Action Plan is the need to better harness the power of parents, families and communities. Action at the community level is critical to achieve significant improvements in maternal, newborn and child health, and to ensure the most vulnerable mothers and children are able to access life-saving health services.

"When community members work alongside health workers to address maternal and newborn health issues, these interactions can lead to stronger awareness of their rights and entitlements as well as better services, greater capacity to stay healthy and to influence the quality of care received,” says Dr Teklu.

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What: Improving Maternal and Newborn Health: The Importance of Working with Communities
Where: Canadian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
When: Wednesday, 21 May, 07:45 – 08:45 CET
Moderator: Elizabeth Mason, WHO, Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MCA)

Panel

  • Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Canada
  • André Mama Fouda, Minister of Public Health, Cameroon
  • Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez is the Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID
  • Davinah Nabirye, Communications Campaign Officer, World Vision Uganda

Follow @WorldVisionUN, @ChildHealthNow and #EveryNewborn for updates on the Every Newborn Action Plan at the World Health Assembly.

Read more about the Every Newborn Action Plan: www.EveryNewborn.org

Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach, an international Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health issues:
From May 28 to 30, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will host a Global Summit on maternal, newborn and child health in Toronto. With a focus on reducing the preventable deaths of newborns, women and children younger than the age of five in developing countries, the Summit will bring together global leaders and Canadian experts to galvanize support for the next phase of efforts and ensure that maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) remains a global priority.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/press or follow on Twitter @WorldVisionNews.