WHO/C. Abella-Pixabay
© Credits

Newborn health

    To ensure every child survives and thrives to reach their full potential, we must focus on improving care around the time of birth and the first week of life.

    The high rates of preventable death and poor health and well-being of newborns and children under the age of five are indicators of the uneven coverage of life-saving interventions and, more broadly, of inadequate social and economic development. Poverty, poor nutrition and insufficient access to clean water and sanitation are all harmful factors, as is insufficient access to quality health services such as essential care for newborns. 

    Health promotion, disease prevention services (such as vaccinations) and treatment of common childhood illnesses are essential if children are to thrive as well as survive.



    Newborn deaths account for 47% of deaths among children under the age of 5 globally, resulting in 2.4 million lives lost each year. About one third of newborn deaths occur on the day of birth and close to three quarters occur within the first week of life. In addition, almost 2 million babies born with no signs of life at 28 weeks of pregnancy or more (stillbirths) and 295 000 maternal deaths occur each year.

    Children who die within the first 28 days of birth suffer from conditions and diseases associated with lack of quality care at birth or skilled care and treatment immediately after birth and in the first days of life. The vast majority of newborn deaths take place in low and middle-income countries.

    WHO response

    In 2014, 194 Member States of the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly endorsed the action plan (Resolution WHA67.10). Led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) was guided by the advice of experts and partners and by multistakeholder consultations and a web-based consultation with over 300 comments from stakeholders. The WHO Director-General has been requested to monitor progress towards the achievement of the global goal and targets, reporting periodically to the World Health Assembly until 2030.

    Twenty-eight focus countries were targeted for data collection through the use of a progress tracking tool. This systematic tracking of progress enables the assessment of the status of implementation of ENAP strategies, maps technical assistance needs and identifies barriers to implementation in line with the ENAP milestones and recommendations.

    Another area of work is the Quality of Care Network. The main objective of the network is broadening the focus from access to care to include quality of care for maternal, newborn and child health to cut preventable maternal and newborn illness and deaths, and to improve every mother’s experience of care.


    All →

    Our work

    Latest publications

    All →
    Nurturing care framework progress report 2018-2023: reflections and looking forward

    The progress report looks back on the five years since the Nurturing care framework was launched.  It documents achievements and presents areas for...

    Kangaroo mother care: a transformative innovation in health care

    This document puts forward the joint position and vision of an expert, global, multistakeholder working group on implementing Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC)...

    Kangaroo mother care - Implementation strategy for scale-up adaptable to different country contexts

    The KMC implementation strategy targets a broad audience. These include policy-makers and programme managers at national, regional and local levels,...

    Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth

    Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth looks to the future, setting an ambitious agenda to reduce the burden of preterm birth by addressing factors...


    All →


    All →

    Related health topics