A third of the world's child deaths occur in South Asia. The region is also home to more than half of all the underweight children in the world, and maternal death rates are high.
Female illiteracy, poverty, and lack of empowerment of women are major barriers to improvement, say doctors. Yet, they show how substantial improvements have been achieved in some places by focusing resources on low cost primary care strategies and tackling socioeconomic issues.
A second article reveals that high levels of postnatal depression among South Asian women are affecting their children's health and development.
The authors suggest that not only will nutritional programmes need to be strengthened to ensure that poor children and their mothers have access to an adequate diet, but interventions for preventing and treating postnatal depression may be required.
In the final article on this topic, researchers argue that health care for mothers and children is seriously inadequate, both in refugee camps and in the government hospitals of most poorly resourced countries. They call for the urgent integration of hospital and home based health care.