Description and excerpts from UNICEF press release: The State of the World's Children 2009 examines critical issues in maternal and newborn health, underscoring the need to establish a comprehensive continuum of care for mothers, newborns and children. The report outlines the latest paradigms in health programming and policies for mothers and newborns, and explores policies, programmes and partnerships aimed at improving maternal and neonatal health. Africa and Asia are a key focus for this report, which complements the previous year's issue on child survival. "Women in the world's least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than women in developed countries. At the same time, a child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month of life than a child born in a developed one." "Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires more than just medical intervention," said Veneman. "Educating girls is pivotal to improving maternal and neonatal health and also benefits families and societies." "The report finds that health services are most effective in an environment supportive of women's empowerment, protection, and education."