Intended for healthcare professionals

Leaving no woman, no child, and no adolescent behind

In 2020 the world enters the last 10 years of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDGs’ mantra, which all countries signed up to through the United Nations, is “Leave no one behind.” The 2030 goals target health and wellbeing for all and the UN’s Every Woman Every Child global strategy for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health (2016-2030) is the unifying roadmap to achieve that for women, children, and adolescents.

Is leaving no one behind just rhetoric, or is it leading to measurable change? In this collection of articles leading researchers from around the world explore the data on health inequalities in an attempt to answer this question. One third of the way through the SDG era, what will it take to ensure that no woman, child or adolescent is left behind?


Reaching all women, children, and adolescents with essential health interventions by 2030
A marathon that requires a concerted effort say Ties Boerma and colleagues

Advancing women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health and equity
Stronger accountability is key say Nicholas Alipui and Elizabeth Mason on behalf of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent


Are the poorest poor being left behind? Estimating global inequalities in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health
Aluisio Barros and colleagues present a comprehensive analysis of wealth-related health inequalities

Women, children and adolescents in conflict countries: an assessment of inequalities in intervention coverage and survival
Nadia Akseer and colleagues provide an initial systematic exploration of inequalities in maternal and child health services in conflict settings

Intimate partner violence in 46 low-income and middle-income countries: an appraisal of the most vulnerable groups of women using national health surveys
Carolina Coll and colleagues discuss intimate partner violence, one of the major obstacles in progress towards the 2030 women, children and adolescents’ health goals in LMICs

Closing the inequality gaps in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health coverage: slow and fast progressors
Agbessi Amouzou and colleagues discuss universal health coverage, a critical goal under the sustainable development goals for health

Inequalities in early childhood care and development in low/middle-income countries: 2010–2018
Chunling Lu and colleagues present new findings on the inequalities in early childhood care and development and discuss what measures need to be taken to reduce these disparities in low/middle-income countries. Read the accompanying opinion article by Melissa Gladstone


Assessing coverage of interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition
Progress has been made in priority interventions, but we need new measurement systems that include the whole life course and give better assessment of equity of coverage, argue Jennifer Requejo and colleagues

How can we realise the full potential of health systems for nutrition?
Poor nutrition contributes substantially to global disease, diminishing the wellbeing of women and children in low and middle income countries, and better nutrition must be part of the universal health coverage agenda, say Rebecca Heidkamp and colleagues

Structural determinants of gender inequality: why they matter for adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health
More comprehensive understanding of gender inequality is required, particularly the broader structural drivers that underpin the political economy of gender power relations, say Asha George and colleagues

Adolescent sexual and reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa: who is left behind?
Dessalegn Melesse and colleagues take a close look at adolescent sexual and reproductive health which is a major public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa

Large and persistent subnational inequalities in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health intervention coverage in sub-Saharan Africa
The study of inequality patterns provides critical guidance to ensure that essential interventions for RMNCH reach women and children equally in all subnational units, say Cheikh Mbacké Faye and colleagues

Equity of resource flows for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health: are those most in need being left behind?
Although equity has improved in recent years, donors and country governments still need to improve the amount and targeting of funding for reproductive, maternal, and child health, say Melisa Martinez-Alvarez and colleagues

Does women’s mobile phone ownership matter for health? Evidence from 15 countries
Amnesty LeFevre and colleagues assess household and women’s access to phones and how this can influence the content and quality of health services received


Unless we act now, the most vulnerable will continue to suffer the worst consequences of violence and abuse of power
Intimate partner violence and warfare contribute to the inequities experienced by women, children, and adolescents says Helen Clark

Wake-up call: 10 years remaining to address inequalities on right to health for all
Political commitments must be translated into faster action through strong collaboration, say Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and colleagues

These articles are part of a series proposed by the Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) hosted by the World Health Organization and commissioned by The BMJ, which peer reviewed, edited, and made the decisions to publish. Article handling fees (including printing, distribution, and open access) are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundaton and PMNCH.

Countdown to 2030 aims to improve monitoring and measurement of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health with a focus on intervention coverage and inequality.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is the world’s largest alliance for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. It brings together over 1,000 partner organisations from 10 constituencies across 192 countries to support the attainment of the sustainable development goals, including through Universal Health Coverage and Primary Health Care.

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