From minding the gap to closing the gap: science to transform maternal and newborn survival and stillbirths in sub-Saharan Africa in the Sustainable Development Goals era

New report offers solutions to improving maternal and child health in Africa. The African Academy of Sciences and The Academy of Medical Sciences publish a report detailing ways to improve maternal, neonatal and child (MNCH) care on the continent. It is estimated that in 2015 there were almost 6 million deaths of children under the age of five and over 300 thousand maternal deaths globally. Almost half of the child deaths globally (2.6 million) are in the neonatal period, and an equal number of babies die as stillbirths in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Sub-Saharan region with only 13% of the world’s population had the majority of maternal deaths worldwide (66%), and more than half of under-5 deaths. If current trajectories continue, more than half of the sub-Saharan countries will not meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set targets for the reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030.