Countdown to 2030: tracking progress towards maternal and newborn health targets

News article 21 Feb 2018
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Photo courtesy of Flickr: Lindsay Mgbor, Department for International Development, 2012

Dr Alexander Manu, Senior Clinical Research Associate at CMNH, is a member of the Equity Technical Working Group of the Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (referred to simply as Countdown). The group have recently published a report and an accompanying publication in the Lancet, which tracks progress towards universal coverage for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Countdown has established that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, prevention of maternal and child mortality, stillbirths, and childhood stunting must be accelerated. The key to such accelerations in countries lie in a rapid scale-up of effective interventions to all population groups within countries. This directly feeds into the mission of the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health.

Dr Manu, a contributor to this report, also presented an academic piece on Inequalities in Early Child Development at the Countdown to 2030 meeting on Improving the measurement of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition in Cape Town, South Africa between 28th January and 3rd February 2018.  

Dr Manu:“In the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focus should not only be on galvanising global momentum towards addressing the unfinished survival agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also ensure that children thrive to reach their optimum potentials.

Growing newborns in low- and middle-income settings, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, are often scarred from the insults inflicted by infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies that mothers pass on to them during pregnancy. Despite this difficult start, these newborns also survive the newborn period with severe morbidities and, due mainly to poverty and stunting, they lack the right nurturing environment to develop optimally. Sadly, inequalities and inequities in mortality distribution that existed across regions, countries and within countries (by wealth, age, rural or urban residence or maternal educational attainment) also persist in the development of these children.”

Countdown is a multi-institutional network of academics from institutions around the world and representatives from UN agencies and civil society. The group is organised into three Technical Working Groups: Coverage, Drivers and Equity. The group has been instrumental in tracking progress to the Millennium Development Goals. In the current era of Sustainable Development Goals, Countdown aims to support the monitoring and measurement of women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health in the 81 countries that account for 95% of maternal and 90% of all child deaths worldwide. Countdown has contributed to improving the visibility of maternal and child deaths that consequently led to increased political will, investment, monitoring and accountability around these deaths.