The next WHO resolution must galvanize action to address the unacceptable burden of preventable deaths.

The global community is far from achieving the goals of reducing maternal mortality (SDG 3.1) (2) and end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age (SDG 3.2) (3). Globally, 287,000 women died from maternal causes in 2020, with an average of 223 maternal deaths for every live birth (1). In the case of children under five years of age, 4.9 million died worldwide in 2022, 2.3 million of them in the first month of life (4). Furthermore, in 2021 almost 1.9 million babies were stillborn (5). The stark reality is that 46 countries are projected to have a ratio greater than 140 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030 (6), 59 countries will miss the SDG target for under-five mortality, and even more (64 countries) will miss the neonatal mortality target (4).

The tragedy is that many of these deaths are preventable. More than 70% of maternal deaths are due to obstetric causes, including hypertension, sepsis, abortion and embolism (7). Regarding mortality in children under 5 years of age, prematurity is the main cause, while birth trauma and asphyxia, acute respiratory infections, malaria, diarrhea and congenital anomalies are among the main causes ( 8). It is a criticism of the global health community that we know these facts and have done very little about them. There are countless approaches that could be adapted to each challenge, but the political will to do so has been lost. For this reason, the World Health Assembly Resolution on maternal, newborn and child health (9) It’s crucial. Initiated by Somalia, co-sponsored by Botswana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Tanzania, the Resolution is undergoing consultations, with increasing support from other Member States, and we, As Ministers of Health, they consider it essential for future progress in maternal and child survival.

The Resolution aims to address persistent disparities in maternal, newborn and child health and accelerate progress. It calls for urgent action to address inequalities across the lifespan and create resilient health systems focused on primary health care. The Resolution is a resounding call to prioritize maternal, newborn and child health in policies, service delivery and financing.

Healthy and empowered women, children and adolescents are critical to the transformative change envisioned by the 2030 Agenda. Investing in their well-being leads to healthier communities, vibrant economies and more prosperous, peaceful and resilient societies. That is why the entire continuum of care must always be considered, beginning with the health and well-being of the parents before conception, and then continuing through all stages of the life of a newborn, child and adolescent. . Otherwise, the global community risks viewing the SDG era as one that failed vulnerable mothers and children.

Fortunately, we know what works. Successful approaches include high-quality essential health and nutrition services; a multi-pronged approach to maximizing resources and addressing labor shortages; stronger primary health care delivery; prioritize the most difficult to access communities; and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services (9).

We do not declare competing interests.


1. WHOMaternal mortality trends from 2000 to 2020: estimates from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and UNDESA/Population Division.
2.UNTransforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG Target 3.1.United Nations, New York, NY2015World Health Organization, Geneva2023

3.UNTransforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG Target 3.2.United Nations, New York, NY2015

4.United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME)Level and trends in infant mortality: 2023 report.United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, NY2024

5. United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME)Never forgotten: the situation of stillbirths around the world.United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, NY2023

6.WHOAcceleration towards the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals in terms of maternal health and infant mortality.
Date: 2023Access date: February 29, 2024

7. Say L, Chou D, Gemmill A, et al.Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis.Lancet Glob Health. 2014; 2: e323-e333

8. Villavicencio F, Perin J, Eilerts-Spinelli H, et al.Global, regional and national causes of death in children and adolescents under 20 years of age: an open data portal with estimates for 2000-21.Lancet Glob Health. 2023; 12:e16-e17
9. WHOAccelerate progress towards reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality to achieve targets 3.1 and 3.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Date: 2024
Access date: February 29, 2024