Since the Every Newborn Action Plan was endorsed at the World Health Assembly one year ago, 15 of the 18 countries with some of the highest burden of maternal and newborn mortality have taken steps to improve care for mothers and their newborns.

Governments’ commitment to the Action Plan’s framework is a stride forward. It sets a clear direction for government actions to ensure mothers and their babies survive and thrive following childbirth and the fragile first month, and lays out mortality and coverage of care targets for countries to meet by 2035.

According to the Action Plan’s progress report released today, four countries – Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Kenya – have developed specific action plans, and a further six countries – China, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe – are in the process of preparing specific action plans. An additional three countries – Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali – have strengthened newborn components within existing plans for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health. Work is in progress in Ethiopia and Lesotho to strengthen the newborn component within existing plans.

Also launching today, Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality calls for eliminating inequity in access, quality and outcomes of care within and between countries that lead to wide disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality.

UNICEF, in partnership with the World Health Organisation and other committed partners, has led and supported the process to develop both the Every Newborn Action Plan and Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality.

"Making newborns and mothers a priority on a global scale has catalyzed unprecedented action," UNICEF’s principal adviser on health Nina Schwalbe. "We must keep this focus in the post-2015 era. The bold actions we take today to end preventable maternal and child mortality will lead to a better world tomorrow.”


  • Maternal mortality rates have not met Millennium Development Goal projections, in spite of unprecedented progress in improving the lives of women and children around the world.
  • Newborn mortality rates have fallen even more slowly and stillbirth rates have stagnated.
  • Each day 800 women and 7,700 newborns still die from complications during pregnancy, childbirth and other neonatal causes.
  • 7,300 women experience a stillbirth each day.
  • These deaths are not equally distributed within or between countries around the world.