Policies, Standards, and Strategies

Reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity in Latin America and the Caribbean. An interagency strategic consensus

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Until recently, newborn health was virtually absent from the global health agenda. Now, assistance agencies, national governments and non-governmental organisations are increasingly addressing this previously neglected issue of close to four million newborns dying every year. The global community began to recognise that Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015 would not be reached unless neonatal mortality was substantially reduced. Within this context, the Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) programme was launched in June 2000 to improve neonatal help and survival. Neonatal mortality is a major contributor to child mortality in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region and is an obstacle to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The purpose of the SNL strategy is to highlight and promote evidence based interventions for newborn care in communities and through health services, with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized population groups. As interventions implemented to reduce maternal mortality also decrease neonatal mortality and improve newborn health, the strategy builds upon the close link between newborn and maternal health. This regional strategy for neonatal mortality and morbidity reduction is the culmination of a collaborative effort that began on World Health Day 2005 and has involved many Latin American countries as well as the support of the Interagency Working Group, which is composed of representatives from PAHO, UNICEF, USAID, ACCESS, BASICS, CORE and Saving Newborn Lives / Save the Children USA. In 2007, Ministers of Health in 14 LAC countries endorsed the strategy, committing improved programming for maternal, newborn and child health.

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