Today on International Women's Day, The African Academy of Sciences and The Academy of Medical Sciences publish a report detailing ways to improve maternal, neonatal and child (MNCH) care on the continent.
It is estimated that in 2015 there were almost 6 million deaths of children under the age of five and over 300 thousand maternal deaths globally. Almost half of the child deaths globally (2.6 million) are in the neonatal period, and an equal number of babies die as stillbirths in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Sub-Saharan region with only 13% of the world’s population had the majority of maternal deaths worldwide (66%), and more than half of under-5 deaths. If current trajectories continue, more than half of the sub-Saharan countries will not meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set targets for the reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030.
The report, From minding the gap to closing the gap: Science to transform maternal and newborn survival and stillbirths in sub-Saharan Africa in the Sustainable Development Goals era, is a product of a policy workshop on maternal and newborn survival and stillbirths in Africa held in September 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was co-organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences and The African Academy of Sciences and is part of a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) policy work. It brought together approximately 65 scientists, clinicians, policymakers and funders from 15 countries across Africa.
Listing the four grand challenges that need to be addressed for better MNCH care on the continent, the report offers research discovery and implementation in response to reducing maternal and newborn deaths through:
Better care during pregnancy
Better care at birth
Better hospital care of sick newborns
Better postnatal care for women and their newborns
The priorities will inform future funding opportunities for MNCH in Africa (particularly for The AAS’s Grand Challenges Africa scheme), prioritise maternal health, and advocacy efforts with policymakers who can drive change more easily when they have access to accurate and concise information.