Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Maternal health

More women and children survive today than ever before – UN report

Portrait of a mother and child.

More women and their children are surviving today than ever before, according to new child and maternal mortality estimates released today by United Nations groups led by WHO and UNICEF. Still, the new estimates reveal that 6.2 million children under 15 years died in 2018, and over 290 000 women died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Of the total child deaths, 5.3 million occurred in the first 5 years, with almost half of these in the first month of life. Women and newborns are most vulnerable during and immediately after childbirth. An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or 1 every 11 seconds, mostly of preventable causes.

Strengthening quality midwifery education

Health centre in Mbanza Ngungu, DRC. Nurse and mother admiring new born child in postnatal ward in maternity department.
S. Torfinn

Midwifery education is a key solution to the challenge of providing universal and quality maternal and newborn care to meet our Sustainable Development Goals. While improving access to care is critical, ensuring good quality of care has an even greater impact in terms of lives saved. WHO, ICM, UNFPA and UNICEF are finalising a report and action plan for strengthening quality midwifery education to be released at the World Health Assembly, 20-28 May 2019.

New resource consolidates data for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

The MNCAH Data Portal is a new unique resource that brings together many different data on key indicators from several sources into one central place. The Data Portal will be the first comprehensive compilation of data on demographics, mortality, morbidity, risk factors, coverage and policy on maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. It will help identify and fill gaps, as well as fulfilling global and national monitoring needs.

WHO releases recommendations on home-based records for maternal, newborn and child health

13 September 2018 – Home-based records have been widely implemented for decades. They are currently in use in at least 163 countries. They vary greatly in their design and content across countries and regions. However, the evidence of their benefits and harms has not been systematically reviewed and summarized. This guideline seeks to address this gap by reviewing the evidence of the effects of home-based records on maternal, newborn and child health outcomes and health service delivery outcomes.

3 in 5 babies not breastfed in the first hour of life

A mother, supported by her mother, breastfeeds her infant in Sierra Leone.
UNICEF/Phelps

At the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 August, WHO and UNICEF report that an estimated 78 million babies – or 3 in 5 – are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding. The report analyzed data from 76 countries, and found that despite the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, too many newborns are left waiting too long for reasons including: feeding newborns food or drinks, including formula; the rise in elective C-sections; and gaps in the quality of care provided to mothers and newborns

2018 definition of competent maternal and newborn health professionals providing care during childbirth published today

June 2018 | WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, ICM, ICN, FIGO and IPA have, today, published a joint statement: "Definition of skilled health personnel providing care during childbirth". A companion background document to the 2018 statement has also been published. The 2018 statement and background document are key tools in the process to measure progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the aims of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

Midwives are essential to the provision of quality of care, in all settings, globally

A graphic of mother, newborn and midwife.
International Conference of Midwives

5 May is International Day of the Midwife 2018. This year the focus is on quality of care. All women and newborns have a right to a quality of care that enables a positive childbirth experience that includes respect and dignity, a companion of choice, clear communication by maternity staff, pain relief strategies, mobility in labour and birth position of choice. Evidence shows us that midwives educated and regulated to international standards can provide 87% of the needs of all women and newborns, and that continuity of midwife-led care increases maternal satisfaction and prevents pre-term birth by 24%.

Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems essential for women's and children's health

A man shows a registration card, while holding his child.
Plan International

February 2018 -- WHO and UNICEF called for greater committment to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, key to increasing access to services and entitlements for women and children. In a Joint Statement released at the recent International Conference on Innovations in CRVS systems in Otawa, Canada, they restated their committment to work with governments and partners to implement evidence-based strategies for strengthening CRVS systems, to support innovative approaches and to ensure the needs of marginalised and vulnerable populations are addressed.

Intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience

Parents with their newborn baby, Malaysia.
WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

15 February 2018 -- Whilst much is known about the clinical management of labour and childbirth less attention is paid to what, beyond clinical interventions, needs to be done to make women feel safe, comfortable and positive about the experience. An increased medicalization of the process can undermine a woman’s own capability in giving birth and negatively impact her experience. These new recommendations bring together existing and new recommendations that address not only the clinical requirements for a safe labour and childbirth but also meet the psychological and emotional needs of women.