Maternal undernutrition contributes to 800 000 neonatal deaths annually through small for gestational age births; stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies are estimated to underlie nearly 3·1 million child deaths annually. Progress has been made with many interventions implemented at scale and the evidence for effectiveness of nutrition interventions and delivery strategies has grown.

Globally, Pakistan has the third highest burden of maternal, fetal, and child mortality. It has made slow progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 and in addressing common social determinants of health. The country also has huge challenges of political fragility, complex security issues, and natural disasters. We undertook an in-depth analysis of Pakistan’s progress towards MDGs 4 and 5 and the principal determinants of health in relation to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition.

Newborn deaths account for 57% of deaths in children younger than 5 years in Pakistan. Although a large programme of trained lady health workers (LHWs) exists, the effectiveness of this training on newborn outcomes has
not been studied.