Child and adolescent health and development

Regional communication strategy for the prevention and control of birth defects

For the prevention and management of birth defects, an enabling and supportive environment is crucial to encourage individuals, families and communities to adopt and sustain new behaviours. This is achieved through a range of health communication activities including community mobilization and media campaigns. Public campaigns need to focus on alleviating the stigma related to birth defects and sensitively address cultural and religious issues such as consanguinity, myths and misconceptions around birth defects.

Strategically planned communication helps influence policy-makers and opinion leaders to bring about changes in policies, as well as encouraging structural changes within the community to support healthy behaviours. Hence, it is equally important to conduct advocacy with policy- and decisionmakers to position birth defects among existing priorities in the national health agenda of countries.

2015 and beyond: the unfinished agenda of MDGs 4 and 5 in South-East Asia

A regional meeting on “2015 and beyond: the unfinished agenda of MDGs 4 and 5 in South-East Asia” was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for South-East Asia, from 29 April to 1 May 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal, with the aim to enhance commitment and accountability in the Member States of the Region towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5, and progressing beyond 2015. Countries reviewed the progress on the United Nations (UN) Secretary- General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health and the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health (CoIA) framework.

March 3, 2015: World Birth Defects Day

To increase global awareness of birth defects, March 3, 2015, marks the first ever World Birth Defects Day. WHO-SEARO is collaborating with 11 other global organizations to promote this special day.
Birth defects affect an estimated 1 in 33 infants and result in approximately 3.2 million birth defect-related disabilities every year. An estimated 270 000 newborns die during the first 28 days of life every year from birth defects. Birth defects may result in long-term disability, which may have significant impacts on individuals, families, health-care systems and societies.
In response to the 2010 World Health Assembly resolution on birth defects CAH-SEARO has worked with the countries of the region and partner organizations to develop Regional Strategic Framework for prevention and control of birth defects. SEARO has assisted countries to develop national plans for prevention of birth defects and establish birth defects surveillance mechanisms.

Preconception care

Report of a regional expert group consultation
6–8 August 2013, New Delhi, India

Preconception care is a set of interventions that are to be provided before pregnancy, to promote the health and well-being of women and couples, as well as to improve the pregnancy and child-health outcomes. Adolescence is a natural extension of the pre-pregnancy phase of the life-course continuum and offers an excellent opportunity to foster healthy behaviours to ensure health during adolescence, positive reproductive health and healthy adulthood in the long term. This report presents the proceedings and recommendations from the Regional expert consultation, as well as the background knowledge on preconception care.

Dr Neena Raina
Regional Adviser, Child and Adolescent Health
World Health Organization - SEARO
IP Estate, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, 110 002 India
Tel : +91 11 2337 0804 Ext: 26315 Fax : +91 11 2337 8510
Email :