(Photos and text by Molly Miller-Petrie, Program Assistant, MCHIP/PATH)
The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Neonatal Alliance recently held its annual work plan meeting at the MCHIP offices in Washington, DC. Attendees focused on improving the group's cooperative and supportive efforts in relation to the work of these professional organizations.
Members brainstormed ideas for improved coordination, including the increased use of social media, websites, and internal bulletins to share new of member activities related to maternal and child health. They also discussed ways in which they could support the national alliances in individual countries in the LAC region, particularly by strengthening the uptake of interventions and recommended practices related to neonatal health.
The Alliance--chaired by MCHIP in 2011 and 2012--represents a partnership between agencies and organizations that span both the continuum of reproductive, maternal, and child health, and the continent of the Americas. Members include PAHO, Save the Children, UNICEF, CORE Group, USAID’s HCI and MCHIP projects, UNFPA, the Colombian Kangaroo Foundation, and The Mesoamerica Health Initiative 2015. Also members are the four major regional professional associations working in maternal and neonatal health: The Pan American Federation of Nursing Professionals (FEPPEN); The Latin American Pediatrics Association (ALAPE); the Latin American Federations of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies (FLASOG); and the LAC Region International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).
In the recent meeting, the group also discussed their approaches to the three main causes of neonatal death: infection, asphyxia, and complications related to premature birth. To address these issues, the group supports the regional implementation of Kangaroo Mother Care, Helping Babies Breathe, early postnatal care, and prevention and treatment of sepsis interventions. These innovative, cross-cutting solutions are helping to reduce neonatal deaths throughout the region, with the support of the Alliance.
Throughout the meeting, dialogue and discussion were interspersed with presentations from experts within the membership on topics such as equity and organizational approaches to reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. The Alliance plans to continue to promote the sharing of state-of-the-art information between colleagues as well as with the national committees and alliances throughout the region, through Elluminate sessions throughout the year and cross-participation in events hosted by other member groups, such as regional meetings and forums.
Members believe that the continued challenge of reducing neonatal and maternal deaths in the LAC region is best addressed in partnership, and the greatest gains are made by sharing strengths, pooling knowledge, and reaching across the Americas to support effective interventions in neonatal health. The Alliance has been and continues to be widely recognized as an innovative and successful approach to regional health.