The State of inequality: reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health report delivers both promising and disappointing messages about the situation in low- and middle-income countries. On the one hand, within-country inequalities have narrowed, with a tendency for national improvements driven by faster improvements in disadvantaged subgroups. In certain indicators and countries, these improvements have been substantial. On the other hand, however, inequalities still persist in most reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) indicators. The extent of within-country inequality differed by dimension of inequality and by country, country income group and geographical region. There is still much progress to be made in reducing inequalities in RMNCH.
The good health of women, infants and children is essential for sustainable development, and there is still much work to be done. Discussions will increasingly call into question how efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health can achieve early and accelerated progress among those who are falling behind.
2015 is the target year for the Millennium Development Goals, marking both the end of an ambitious 5-year effort to improve the lives of the world’s poorest, but also a time for new beginnings, with opportunities to refocus, renew and revitalize the approach of successive global development initiatives.