Newborn Health

The number of infants dying in their first month of life has been reduced from an estimated 4 million deaths annually in 2005 to an estimated 3 million in 2012.  Despite this significant reduction in the number of newborn deaths, the annual rate of mortality reduction (at 1.8%) is much slower compared with the reduction for maternal mortality ratio (at 4.2%) and mortality for children age 1-59 months (at 2.5%). Globally, newborn mortality represents about 43% of all mortality among children age five and under.

For countries to achieve their MDG4 goals they must reduce their high newborn mortality rates. The majority of newborn deaths result from three preventable and/or treatable causes: complications of preterm births; birth complications (mainly birth asphyxia); and newborn infections. There is growing global and country momentum to scale-up proven interventions to address these three major causes of newborn deaths. Technical organizations and donors—including WHO, UNICEF, USAID, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children and MCHIP—are leading the effort to work with countries to catalyze accelerated action to increase effective coverage of lifesaving newborn interventions.

Strategic Approach

MCHIP supports country implementation of evidence-based interventions that address the three main causes of newborn mortality.  The Program collaborates with countries and partners to assist in the review and revision of national policies and strategies, strengthen existing interventions, and to introduce and expand new proven interventions at scale. At the global level, MCHIP collaborates with UN agencies (WHO and UNICEF in particular), professional associations (notably the American Academy of Pediatrics), and donors to avail technical guidance and learning materials to support country implementation of newborn health programs.

Key Contributions to Newborn Health

  • MCHIP has contributed significantly to accelerating uptake of proven key newborn health interventions by countries through dissemination of information at conferences—including the Global Newborn Health conferences in Dhaka and Johannesburg. As a result of these conferences, countries (including Bangladesh, India and Sierra Leone) have pledged to improve the availability of and access to selected “neglected” interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) and the use of antenatal corticosteroids during preterm labor to improve newborn survival.
  • The Program collaborated with other in-country partners to facilitate the change of Liberia Ministry of Health (MoH) policy for umbilical cord care from “leave cord stump clean and dry” to chlorhexidine application to the umbilical cord stump at birth, and contributed to adoption of this intervention in Bangladesh and Madagascar.
  • Working with the Ethiopian Pediatric Society, MCHIP provided technical support to the Ethiopian National Child Survival Technical Working Group to standardize the resuscitation component of the national Essential Newborn Care (ENC), Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC), and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV training materials. In addition, MCHIP supported the training of 24 national BEmONC trainers on ENC to strengthen their knowledge and skills on ENC and ensuring standardized ENC competencies are provided to health workers by national BEmONC trainers. Building the ENC capacity of this group of national BEmONC trainers ensures that the country has a pool of trainers to improve the competencies of health workers to provide high-quality care to newborns. In addition, MCHIP directly supported the training of 256 health workers from 73 health facilities in four regions in the country on Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), and provided each facility with bag and mask. As a result, more than 578 asphyxiated babies have been successfully resuscitated by these workers.