Around 1,000 policymakers, researchers, practitioners and advocates from 75 countries gathered in Mexico City for the first Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference.
The conference creates an opportunity for the maternal and newborn health communities to strategize actions for achieving the targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health, which were launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
"Investing in the health and well-being of women and children is one of the smartest things countries can do. It enables them to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve long-lasting benefits for their families, communities and nations. Extraordinary progress is possible. By working together and integrating our efforts, we can collectively achieve greater impact, enabling more women and children to survive and thrive," said Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We now have the chance to achieve a grand convergence in health--a world where, within a generation, women and children all have the same access to health care and an equal opportunity to survive and thrive, regardless of where they give birth or are born," said Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
"This conference brings together the people that will help make this vision a reality by focusing on maternal and newborn health and fulfilling the commitments we have made to the Sustainable Development Goals," he added.
The conference is hosted by the Secretariat of Health of Mexico by partnering with Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USAID's flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) and Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program.
The Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference will discuss strategies for reaching every woman and newborn with high-quality health care and approaches for ending preventable maternal and newborn mortality and stillbirths.
"It is a privilege to host this important meeting in Mexico. We must take every opportunity to learn from one another so that the day of birth is a happy occasion for all, no matter who they are or where they live," said Mercedes Juan Lopez, Secretary of Health, Mexico.
Though survival rates of women during pregnancy and after childbirth have increased globally, still every day, 800 women and 7,400 newborns die from preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Around 7,300 women experience a stillbirth.
Increasing access to family planning and modern contraception, quality care in pregnancy and around the time of birth through interventions like skilled birth attendants, exclusive breastfeeding, clean cord care, skin-to-skin contact and drying newborns are the priority measures to be taken for preventing mortality.
"We know how to save women and newborns. Now we must focus on eliminating disparities and implementing the proven, cost-effective solutions that not only save lives, but create a virtuous cycle that transforms entire communities," said Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference will create a global conversation to understand and respond to the most urgent health needs of mothers and newborns, focusing on quality care, integration and equity.