New research published in The Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirths Series demonstrates that despite significant reductions in the number of maternal and child deaths, there has been little change in the number of stillbirths. Across the world, there are more than 2.6 million stillbirths every year, half of which occur during labour and birth. Yet with quality care, most could be prevented.
We therefore call on the international community, governments and communities to take action to prevent stillbirths through:
INTENTIONAL LEADERSHIP: Maximise existing leadership; ensure global organisations include stillbirths when acting for women and children, intentionally involving parents and nurturing champions
INCREASED VOICE, especially among women: Empower women to demand quality of life and health care, and support those affected by stillbirth to raise their voices for change; develop culturally appropriate protocols for respectful care after death; reduce stigma
IMPLEMENTATION of integrated interventions with commensurate investment: Ensure high-quality care for every woman during pregnancy, labour and birth, and after stillbirth; focus on the highest impact interventions, especially intrapartum care in the highest burden settings; address health system bottlenecks, especially the need for skilled health workers, particularly midwives; increase funding and innovation commensurate with the scale of 2·6 million deaths a year; promote these actions within global, regional and national processes in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health
INDICATORS TO MEASURE IMPACT & monitor progress: Count every pregnancy and every baby, including stillbirths, particularly by improving Civil and Vital Registration Systems; integrate stillbirth-specific components within relevant plans for data improvement, especially to track programmatic coverage and quality, including stillbirth prevention and post-stillbirth support; complete and use perinatal audit tools and a global classification system
INVESTIGATION of crucial knowledge gaps: Address gaps in knowledge by setting research priorities regarding stillbirth prevention and bereavement support, including discovery, translational, and implementation science to drive innovation; develop research capacity
Specifically, governments must meet the following targets and milestones:
Antenatal care: by 2030, universal quality of care and comprehensive antenatal care for all women in all countries;
Learn more about the global movement to prevent stillbirths by watching the recent “Maintaining Momentum and Building on Strategies to Prevent Stillbirths” webinar. Organized by American Public Health Association, and featuring WRA’s CEO Betsy McCallon, the webinar reviews the progress that has been made on ending preventable stillbirth deaths, highlights strategies for faster progress and discusses ways to provide better care to women and families following stillbirths.