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Saving Lives, Improving Maternal Health:
A Comprehensive Approach to PreventING Mortality

March 2015 (Issue 3)
Photo: Mark Tuschman
Photo: Mark Tuschman


Jonathan D. QuickReducing maternal and newborn mortality requires a wide range of well-aligned programs and services. From community-based efforts that empower women and their families, to readily available surgical services in district and regional hospitals, and everything in between, a comprehensive approach for saving women and children’s lives is a challenging and pressing public health task. Success means having technical acumen across the continuum of care to effectively address issues such as gender equity and empowerment, social mobilization, and financial barriers to care. When these efforts are executed in a holistic manner, widespread benefits ensue: strong women and girls, healthy families, robust communities and productive societies.

MSH is in a privileged position to make significant contributions in preventing maternal mortality. Our range of expertise across all health system areas provides us with a powerful foundation for bringing quality maternal health care to millions. Working at all levels—from households and communities to health facilities and ministries—we bring together diverse and interdependent strategies. Universal health coverage is one such approach that increases access and breaks down financial barriers, having a profound effect on maternal and newborn health outcomes. Last week, my colleague Dr. Luis Tam, Global Technical Lead for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, blogged about three elements for improving outcomes—data-driven decision making, task shifting, and respectful maternal care. This month, we are delighted to expand upon this experience to share with you our comprehensive approach for improving maternal and newborn health and saving lives.

~Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH President & CEO


Photo: Emily Phillips/MSH
"Systematic use of data, task shifting, and respectful maternal care are three ways that civil society, governments (as employers of health providers), and the international development community can support better maternal care," blogs Dr. Luis Tam, Global Technical Lead, Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (MNCH).
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Photo: Emily Phillips/MSH
Photo: Fanja Saholiarisoa/MSH
Although the remote village of Manandriana in southern Madagascar is six kilometers from the nearest health center, the local population’s health has improved in recent years because of community volunteer health workers, like Celestine Razanabao.
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Photo: Fanja Saholiarisoa/MSH
Photo: Caption
Helping midwives gain leadership, management, and governance skills ensures they are better able to provide maternal services to those who need it most.
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Photo: Mark Tuschman
Photo: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu
In Nigeria’s Cross River State, the USAID-funded Evidence to Action Project (E2A), in partnership with the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, will replicate an evidence-based, comprehensive maternal and newborn health intervention that will deliver high-impact, integrated maternal and newborn health services in all public and private facilities providing labor and delivery services.
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Photo: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu
MSH's Policy & Advocacy Unit recently joined the newly‐formed Maternal, Newborn, and Child Survival (MNCS) Working Group, a coalition of like-minded NGOs trying to build broader, bipartisan congressional support around MNCS issues.
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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Integrated Health Project

Led by MSH with partners the International Rescue Committee and Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd., the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP) works in 78 health zones in four provinces to improve the basic health of the Congolese people, by increasing the availability and use of high-impact services, products, and practices for maternal, newborn and child health; family planning; nutrition, malaria, and TB; HIV & AIDS; and water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Photo: Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd.
Photo: IRC
Photo: Mark Tuschman
Photo: Amélie Sow-Dia
Photos (clockwise from top left): Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd., International Rescue Committee, Mark Tuschman, Amélie Sow-Dia


Beth Yeager
Beth Yeager, MHS, Principal Technical Advisor, Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program, and Chair, Maternal Health Supplies Caucus, Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, talks about MSH's global technical leadership on improving access to maternal health medicines and commodities.
Read the interview

Photo: Warren Zelman
"Great progress has been made in identifying the bottlenecks to access, raising awareness of the complexity of addressing these challenges, and increasing global commitment to ending preventable maternal deaths as part of the post-2015 development agenda," blogs Beth Yeager.
Read more
Photo: Warren Zelman


Photo: Rui Pires
The E2A project partnered with the STRIDES for Family Health project, and Uganda’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to introduce and implement an Improvement Collaborative -- a systematic approach for introducing and scaling up high-impact, best practices in maternal and newborn health and family planning.
Learn more
Photo: Rui Pires


Watch video
Through the support of mother mentors like Tiberih Tsegaye, trained by the Ethiopia Network for HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care and Support Program (ENHAT-CS), Mearege gets tested and learns she and her daughter are HIV-positive. Mearege is one of many HIV-positive women in Ethiopia whose lives have been transformed with the support of ENHAT-CS.



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of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people
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