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A new hope for mothers and newborn in Mongolia

Participants to the training

 A new hope for Mongolian Mothers and Newborn Babies
Although Mongolia has made remarkable progress in maternal and child health over the last two decades, progress on newborn survival has lagged behind. Currently, 42% of the 2000 deaths of children under the age of five happen during the first 28 days since birth. With nearly 98% of taking place in health facilities, additional efforts are needed to improve the quality of care and adoption of best care practices by health workers.
Much to the delight of UNICEF and partners, the Government of Mongolia has declared 2014 to be the year of Maternal and Child Health. The Ministry of Health jointly with UNICEF and the WHO recently convened a newborn care action planning meeting. Speaking at the inaugural session, Dr. Udval the Minister for Health encouraged the participants to develop with home grown solutions to improve the health system and tackle community engagement challenges.
 “This newborn action plan is the best gift we can give to children of Mongolia this year” remarked Mohamed Malick Fall, the UNICEF country representative. He also reiterated UNICEF’s full support to develop and implement the action plan. The recent UNICEF-supported formative research and Lot Quality Assurance Sampling survey provided very useful insights that fed into the evidence-based planning process. Dr. Nabila Zaka from UNICEF EAPRO and Dr. Howard Sobel from WHO WPRO shared regional perspectives and international experiences.
An interactive session during the workshop helped participants understand the importance of early essential newborn care. 
A wide range of partners from national and sub-national levels participated in discussions around the prioritization of activities and in developing a long-term plan reflecting elements from the 2014-2020 WHO-UNICEF Regional Action Plan for Healthy Newborns. A detailed and costed implementation plan will be developed to set-up a centre of excellence for newborn training, team-based learning approaches and supportive supervision to foster best practices, updating the clinical guidelines and packaging these into comprehensive facility packages, increasing demand among parents and tackling the issues of financial protection and sustainable supplies. The essence of the action plan is the focus on “early essential newborn care”, given that the first 3 days are the most critical in saving newborn babies’ lives. Simple practices, such as immediate drying, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breast feeding for all newborns can prevent many complications. Similarly, using Kangaroo Mother Care for stable pre-term and low-birth weight babies can reduce their dependence on expensive newborn intensive care units and free these facilities for babies in greater need. Maternal health and newborn health are inseparable. Therefore, integral elements of the plan include attention to quality intra-partum care, reduction of un-necessary C sections and timely management of prolonged and obstructed labour.

 Dr. Surenchimeg, UNICEF Mongolia Health Specialist, expressed her confidence in seeing how the Ministry of Health leadership, as well as its and partnership with WHO, UNFPA, professional associations and communities will make the plan a success.  



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