Message from the UN Secretary-General

High-rise buildings across a river from a shanty town.

Since the launch of the Every Woman Every Child movement in 2010, leaders from government, civil society, multilateral organizations, and the private sector have worked hand-in-hand to improve health and save lives around the world. Building on earlier work, our collective efforts have achieved much progress: Maternal and child deaths have been cut by almost half since 1990. Remarkable technological advances in recent years, such as low-cost vaccines, new drugs, diagnostic tools, and innovative health policies, have driven this unprecedented reduction in maternal and child mortality.

The innovative Every Woman Every Child partnership model has proven to be a game-changer for women’s and children’s health, demonstrating the immense value of bringing all relevant actors to the table. Many other innovations, including more efficient distribution networks, the use of mobile technologies to reach women in rural areas, and local vaccine production, have also played an important role in generating new progress for women’s and children’s health.

As we acknowledge these achievements, we must recognize that much more needs to be done to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused on health. Each year, 289,000 women die while giving life, and each day, almost 18,000 children die, mostly from preventable causes.

As we accelerate efforts to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline and create the best possible foundation for implementing the post-2015 development agenda, innovation will be critical. These innovations may be technological, social, business, or financial. Many lifesaving innovations already exist, and an increasing number are coming from low- and middle-income countries. We need to determine which have the greatest potential and how to take them to scale.

The Innovation Countdown 2030 initiative seeks to help the world meet this challenge. By working across sectors to identify and analyze promising innovations, the initiative will highlight new pathways for ensuring that every woman and every child have the opportunity for a healthier, happier life. Together, with new innovations at the forefront, we can reach our shared goal of ending all preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation.

Photo: PATH/Glenn Austin.