1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

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Recently I received a gift of an intricate handwoven pucara sash, created from Alpaca/Lama wool by a skilled artisan in the highlands of Peru, a centuries old cultural symbol. The indigenous women living in each village in the Andean mountains create a distinctive pattern across the generations through centuries of time. This lovely gift demonstrates the strength and courage of women throughout the world who are deeply committed to the health and well-being of their families, especially their precious children.


In March 2015, a progress report on the global strategy of 2010-2015 was published (Every Woman Every Child, 2015b). This report documented the impressive progress made in conjunction with the millennium development goals in reduction of maternal and child mortality through public and private global partnerships including a 45% reduction in maternal deaths since 1990 and fewer deaths of children (6.4 million less) in 2013 compared to 1990 (


With implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015, Every Woman Every Child (2015a) has updated the global strategy for the health of women, children, and adolescents: by 2030 there will be a world in which every woman, child, and adolescent in every setting realizes their rights to physical and mental health and well-being, has social and economic opportunities, and is able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies. Guiding principles include initiatives that are "human rights-based, evidence-informed, universal, gender-responsive, sustainable, accountable, and human centered." The objectives and targets of this initiative, in collaboration with global organizations and country-led implementation, are closely aligned with the SDGs. The focus is on ending preventable deaths among women, children, and adolescents, including stillbirths, by reducing maternal-newborn and under-five mortality. Educational attainment, participation in the workforce, and ability to make social contributions are other goals targeting equality for women, children, and adolescents to "survive and thrive." Goals are that by 2030 maternal mortality will be decreased to 70 per 100,000 live births, under-five and newborn mortality rates will be decreased to 25, and there will be 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1,000 live births across the globe (


Priority areas include adolescent health, prevention of stillbirths, improved food and nutrition, clean water and enhanced sanitation, and immediate attention to those living in areas of conflict and refugees escaping from such areas.


According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), as of December 2015 there were 21 million Syrians registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon; 1.9 million in Turkey, and 26,700 in North Africa ( Nearly 24% of women who are Syrian refugees are women of childbearing age, and 28% of the refugees are children between 0 and 11 years of age ( Refugee health is of particular concern, with the period of greatest health risks being in the first few days and weeks ( Because women are the primary family caregivers, they often bear a disproportionate share of stressful challenges and suffering, including childbearing complications and sexual and gender-based violence. Children are also very vulnerable to malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and contraction of vaccine-preventable diseases ( Much work needs to be done to ameliorate these difficulties with vulnerable populations.


The global strategies associated with the new SDGs provide clear direction for the future. Just as the patterns of the beautiful Peruvian textiles represent the strength and courage of women, the new global strategies focusing on the health of women and their children provide a pattern for vulnerable populations to not only survive but to thrive as well. According to Graca Machel, chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, "We know what we have to do to save the lives of women and girls everywhere. Needless deaths of women, newborns and children must stop. We must do more and we must do better because every action counts and every life counts" (Every Woman Every Child, 2015a, p. 30).




Every Woman Every Child. (2015a). Global strategy for women's, children's, and adolescent health 2016-2030. New York: Author [Context Link]


Every Woman Every Child. (2015b). Global Strategy Progress Report (2010-2015). New York: Author. [Context Link]