REPORT | Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover: Here are the major takeaways

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A building block for progress in women’s and adolescents’ health and well-being is political commitment and financial investments, according to a new report from Every Woman Every Child.

The report notes that since the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement was launched 10 years ago, there has been remarkable progress in improving the health of the world’s women, children and adolescents.

However, conflict, climate instability and the COVID-19 outbreak are endangering the health and well-being of all children and adolescents.

“The achievements of the Every Woman Every Child movement in the past 10 years have been outstanding in terms of mobilizing action to generate greater investment in and to deliver services for the health and rights of more and more women, children and adolescents. As the world faces multiple crises that threaten this important progress, now more than ever, partners need to recommit to the EWEC agenda and prioritize attention to ensuring the health, lives and rights of all women, children and adolescents,” said Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Here are the main highlights of the report titled “Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover, 2020”:

• The number of maternal deaths worldwide declined from an estimated 451,000 in 2000 to 295,000 in 2017, a reduction of about 35%, with the most significant declines occurring since 2010. These deaths are increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where 86% of all maternal deaths occurred in the year 2017.

• The mortality rate for children aged under 5 years fell by almost 50% between 2000 and 2019, from 76 deaths per 1000 live births to 38, and the neonatal mortality rate declined at a slower pace during this same period.

• There has been uneven progress in creating a nurturing environment for children and adolescents to reach their full potential.

• Climate change and its environmental impacts are also a looming threat to the lives of children today and to future generations.

• Armed conflict affects millions of women, children and adolescents around the world. It increases their mortality due to violence and injuries or through infectious diseases.

• Talking about the ongoing pandemic, the report says that the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in millions of infections and hospitalizations and thousands of deaths, besides intensifying pre-existing challenges and creating new ones with potentially long-lasting detrimental consequences.

• The mitigation strategies adopted by countries have frequently resulted in disruptions to the delivery of indispensable reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services.

• COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic have also adversely affected the food system through trade restrictions and disruptions in transportation, increasing the risk of food insecurity for millions of families.

• Widespread school closures are anticipated to hamper learning and human capital development, with some children likely to never return to schools and others potentially exposed to higher levels of domestic violence and more risks of early pregnancy.