Innovating to improve the health of women, children, and adolescents

Woman holding her infant daughter.
The task ahead is for countries and their partners to focus on the most promising innovations to save the lives of vulnerable women, children, and adolescents—and for all of us to help ensure these innovations reach scale and can be sustainably financed.

We have come a long way in a short time. Since 1990, maternal and child mortality have dropped by nearly half. In 2015, nearly 240,000 maternal and 1.9 million newborn deaths will be averted compared to 1990. But on the eve of the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we know that the maternal and child health targets will not be met. There are still far too many women and children dying from preventable conditions. We can and must do even better. Innovation will be critical to our continued progress.

The task ahead is for countries and their partners to focus on the most promising innovations to save the lives of vulnerable women, children, and adolescents—and for all of us to help ensure these innovations reach scale and can be sustainably financed. Our experience with the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement shows what is possible when we come together around a common strategy.

In only five years, the global EWEC movement has rallied unprecedented energy and financial support for women and children to put into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. We estimate that more than US$255 million in investments have been made to support more than 1,000 maternal and child health innovations in various R&D pipelines.

The World Health Organization has a long history with R&D to address public health needs, especially in developing countries. We are committed to working with our partners in country governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector, and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women, adolescents, and children.

By ensuring that the new Global Strategy is a cornerstone of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—and with the help of promising innovations like those in this report—we will continue to improve the lives of women, children, and adolescents worldwide.

Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.