Countdown to 2015 launches its 2014 Report today, at the Partners’ Forum of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), in Johannesburg, South Africa. Countdown is a co-sponsor of the Forum, together with PMNCH, A Promise Renewed, and the independent Expert Review Group (iERG).
The 2014 Report, Fulfilling the Health Agenda for Women and Children, was released exactly 18 months to the day from the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015. Like previous Countdown reports, it includes an updated, detailed profile for each of the 75 Countdown countries, which together account for more than 95% of the global burden of maternal, newborn and child death.
The new Countdown report shows that many developing countries have taken substantive action to save women’s and children’s lives, but that vast areas of ‘unfinished business’ need to be addressed now and prioritized in post-2015 health and development frameworks. Countdown to 2015 studied progress in 75 countries, finding that substantial inequities persist, even in countries that have made solid gains in maternal and child health. Many countries are still only reaching half or less of women and children with vital health interventions, and many of the poorest are being left behind.
The 2014 Report also provides an assessment of the state of the data to support evidence-based decisions in women’s and children’s health, and describes elements of the Countdown process that might inform ongoing efforts to hold the world to account for progress. It concludes by laying out concrete action steps that can be taken now to ensure continued progress for women and children in the years ahead.
The headlines and data highlights from the 2014 Report include the following:
– In several countries, more than half of the mothers and children in the poorest 20% of the population receive 2 or fewer of 8 interventions deemed essential for preventing or treating common causes of maternal and child death.
– Half of the 75 Countdown countries still have high maternal mortality rates, and 16 countries –all of them in Africa – still have “very high” maternal mortality – 500 or more maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
– Reducing preventable newborn deaths is a major part of the unfinished business of the MDGs.
– Severe health workforce shortages limit countries’ ability to provide high-quality care to women and children: only seven Countdown countries report having enough skilled professionals to provide care and coverage of key interventions.
Countdown to 2015 is a global movement to track, stimulate and support country progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals, particularly goals 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health). Established in 2003 and hosted by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Countdown is supra-institutional and includes academics, governments, international agencies, professional associations, donors, nongovernmental organizations and other members of civil society, with The Lancet as a key partner. Countdown focuses specifically on tracking coverage of a set of evidence-based interventions proven to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.
Countdown produces periodic publications, reports, and other materials on key aspects of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, using data to hold stakeholders to account for global and national action. At the core of Countdown reporting are country profiles that present current evidence to assess country progress in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. More detailed equity profiles, which present country data disaggregated by wealth, sex, maternal education, and other equity factors, are available on the Countdown website.
Countdown’s 2014 Report is available for download from the Countdown website.