Newborn health is intrinsically linked to the health of the mother and the care she receives before, during and immediately after giving birth. As deaths from infectious diseases fall, they are replaced by birth defects as the leading cause of childhood death. Every year, around eight million babies are born with birth defects, and at least three million children die. Many more face a lifetime of disability, poverty and stigma.
Yet up to 70% of birth defects are preventable or treatable, often with very simple interventions. In 2010, the PHG Foundation made a formal pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting: "We commit to helping low and middle income countries to tackle birth defects by building better healthcare services for their populations."
PHG Foundation framework for action on birth defects
This commitment recognizes the urgent need for governments in low and middle-income countries to focus resources on birth defects, a need recognized in the 2010 World Health Assembly resolutions. Born Healthy was established by the PHG Foundation in 2011 as a response to this urgent need. It has two elements:
- A toolkit for building evidence about birth defects in local and national populations and the impact that practical, affordable measures to tackle them will have for individuals, families and communities
- A global community to support the call for countries to act now to give children the healthiest possible start – connecting individuals and organizations around the world
Toolkit for Health Needs Assessment in Congenital Disorders
The aim of the toolkit is to help health professionals build evidence of the impact birth defects are having in their communities and to plan effective services to tackle the problem, including improving health care and education for women and mothers-to-be. An initial version of the toolkit is online.
The PHG health needs assessment toolkit is a roadmap for identifying the actions communities can take to tackle birth defects, according to their needs, resources and priorities. Many actions are simple but highly effective, such as:
- Food fortification programs to increase folate levels in a population can significantly reduce the incidence of Spina Bifida
- Immunization programs can stop mothers-to-be contracting rubella, a disease which can cause mental and physical abnormalities in unborn babies.
Born Healthy hopes to grow and encourage further collaborations so that together we can take the toolkit to all communities where services are so desperately needed.
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LEARN more about Born Healthy here.
LEARN more about PHG Foundation here.