Kate Holt/Jhpiego

Newborn Health

Despite global efforts to develop and promote high-impact interventions for newborn health, nearly three million infants die each year within the first month of life, with more than three-quarters of these deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. An additional 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year: half of these are during labor and birth, most are preventable, and nearly all occur in low- and middle-income countries. Improvements in the prevention of newborn death have lagged behind those for maternal and child health, and 45% of all under-five deaths happen during the newborn period. Yet, two-thirds of newborn deaths are preventable with simple, inexpensive interventions.

MCSP harnesses global and country level resources to reduce preventable newborn deaths. This includes advocacy and technical support to implement key interventions that address the major causes of newborn death — intrapartum complications, newborn infections, and complications of preterm birth. As part of an integrated package of maternal and newborn care, we focus on providing appropriate, timely, and high-quality essential newborn care on the day of birth and during the postnatal period, including:

  • Newborn resuscitation to manage asphyxia;
  • Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for premature and low birth weight newborns; and
  • Newborn infection prevention and management.

To advance these critical newborn health interventions, and in recognition of the fact that many newborn deaths can be prevented through improved care of women before and during pregnancy, we emphasize integration with maternal care while strengthening health services and the household-to-hospital continuum of care. MCSP collaborates and works with partners through global initiatives — such as Saving Newborn LivesSurvive & Thrive Global Development AllianceUN Commission on Lifesaving CommoditiesEvery Newborn Action Plan, the Kangaroo Mother Care Acceleration Partnership, and others — to ensure newborn health remains on global and national agendas. Country partnerships include governments, local partners, and communities where the Program supports policy strengthening and scale-up of evidence-based newborn interventions.

These collective efforts contribute to strengthening skills and improving the quality of newborn health services through improved coverage and quality of essential newborn care, newborn resuscitation, essential care for small babies, prevention of umbilical infection through use of chlorhexidine, and appropriate management of possible severe bacterial infection.

To download MCSP’s newborn health fact sheet, click here.

Key Results


  • Through the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) Country Implementation Group, MCSP shared the experiences of its country programs in engaging in the ENAP tracking process, including challenges faced in institutionalizing the process at the country level.
  • The Program took on co-leadership of the Newborn Resuscitation Technical Resource Team and facilitated the first face-to-face meeting, which brought together eminent country and global representatives.
  • As co-lead of the KMC Acceleration Partnership (KAP), MCSP engaged stakeholders — including Ministries in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Bangladesh and India — in the design of the first regional community of practice meetings to share learning and discuss challenges in order to further catalyze progress on KMC within their respective regions.
  • The Program contributed to the development and dissemination of global maternal and newborn health guidelines and related materials, including WHO guidelines on the perinatal death audit (PNDA). MCSP led the development of a policy brief summarizing the PNDA guidelines, which was disseminated as part of the World Health Organization launch of the guidelines and related materials.
  • MCSP Newborn, Maternal Health, and Family Planning Teams collaborated to strengthen routine integrated care for mothers and newborns on the day of birth. Nigeria, Haiti and Tanzania received support to use the approach as a way to strengthen capacities for not only health service delivery but also quality improvement, data management, and overall health systems strengthening.
  • The Program is improving care of small babies through accelerating uptake of bCPAP (bubble continuous positive airway pressure) in countries with newborn programs. At the request of USAID and the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact, MCSP facilitated bCPAP market assessments in two country programs (MCSP/India and MCHIP/Bangladesh), with a third assessment planned for Nigeria. These assessments aim to contribute to the design of a strategy to introduce and scale up bCPAP in both public and private health facilities in the two countries. In Nigeria, MCSP is also supporting the testing of bCPAP as an innovation to improve outcomes for preterm babies.
  • In Nigeria, MCSP supported the finalization of the national chlorhexidine (CHX) strategy and helped to establish a national mechanism for collection and review of CHX implementation data. In Liberia, MCSP supported national-level discussions with key stakeholders to inform the development of a national CHX scale-up plan.
Maternal Child Survival Program
Maternal and Child Survival Program