By Anita Sharma
Women’s and children’s health and survival rates around the world are steadily improving, but too many women, newborns, and children – the overwhelming majority of whom live in developing countries – continue to die from largely preventable causes.
Over the past few weeks, the global health community has come together at a series of high profile events in Geneva, Toronto, and Washington D.C. to assess progress and accelerate momentum for women’s and children’s health. This momentum continues next week in Johannesburg with the Partner’s Forum for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH).
The Partner’s Forum falls at a critical juncture, with a little over 500 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. As world leaders begin deliberations to define the post-2015 development agenda, this is a pivotal moment for the health community to make one final push and commit to deliver to improve the health of women, newborns, and children around the world.
In support of the Every Woman Every Child movement, a multi-stakeholder partnership spearheaded by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki–moon, the Forum will also provide an important opportunity for sectors to come together and push for greater accountability ahead of the UN General Assembly in September.
Close to 1,000 participants, including 70 governments and 25 Ministers of Health, are expected to attend the two-day meeting, with youth advocates and civil society organizations engaged at all levels.
Lastly, four landmark reports will be launched during the Forum including the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP), which was recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly and provides a roadmap and joint platform for reducing preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths.
With an estimated 289,000 women dying as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, 6.6 million children who don’t live to see their fifth birthday, and nearly 3 million babies not surviving their first month of life, the 2014 Partner’s Forum is a key moment to spur action and save lives.