Preventing Maternal and Newborn Deaths Globally

Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States
Obstetrics and Gynecology (Impact Factor: 5.18). 09/2012; 120(3):636-42. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3182632cc1
Source: PubMed


We have made important progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, with an estimated 47% decrease in maternal deaths and 28% decrease in newborn deaths globally since 1990. However, rapidly accelerating this progress is vital because far too many maternal and newborn deaths still occur each day. Fortunately, there are major initiatives underway to enhance global efforts in preventing these deaths, including the United Nations Secretary General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. We know why maternal and newborn deaths occur, where they occur, and how they occur, and we have highly effective interventions for preventing them. Nearly all (99%) maternal and newborn deaths occur in developing countries where the implementation of life-saving interventions has been a major challenge. Determining how best to meet this challenge will require more intensive interrelated efforts that include not only science-driven guidance on effective interventions, but also strategies and plans for implementing these interventions. Implementation science, defined as "the study of methods to promote the integration of research findings and evidence into healthcare policy and practice," will be key as will innovations in both technologies and implementation processes. We will need to develop conceptual and operational frameworks that link innovation and implementation science to implementation challenges for the Global Strategy. Likewise, we will need to expand and strengthen close cooperation between those with responsibilities for implementation and those with responsibilities for developing and supporting science-driven interventions. Realizing the potential for the Global Strategy will require commitment, coordination, collaboration, and communication-and the women and newborns we serve deserve no less.

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    ABSTRACT: The Special Programme of Research in Human Reproduction (HRP), co-sponsored by the UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, and the World Bank, is celebrating 40 years of activities with an expansion of its mandate and new co-sponsors. When it began, in 1972, the main focus was on evaluating the acceptability, effectiveness, and safety of existing fertility-regulating methods, as well as developing new, improved modalities for family planning. In 1994, HRP not only made major contributions to the Plan of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD); it also broadened its scope of work to include other aspects of health dealing with sexuality and reproduction, adding a specific perspective on gender issues and human rights. In 2002, HRP's mandate was once again broadened to include sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS and in 2003 it was further expanded to research activities on preventing violence against women and its many dire health consequences. Today, the work of the Programme includes research on: the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents, women, and men; maternal and perinatal health; reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS); family planning; infertility; unsafe abortion; sexual health; screening for cancer of the cervix in developing countries, and gender and reproductive rights. Additional activities by the Programme have included: fostering international cooperation in the field of human reproduction; the elaboration of WHO's first Global Reproductive Health Strategy; work leading to the inclusion of ICPD's goal 'reproductive health for all by 2015' into the Millennium Development Goal framework; the promotion of critical interagency statements on the public health, legal, and human rights implications of female genital mutilation and gender-biased sex selection. Finally, HRP has been involved in the creation of guidelines and tools, such as the 'Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use', the 'Global handbook for family planning providers', the 'Definition of core competencies in primary health care', and designing tools for operationalizing a human rights approach to sexual and reproductive health programmes.
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