Over the past several months, Girls’ Globe has highlighted the importance of maternal, child and newborn health. We have discussed many of the leading preventable causes of maternal and child mortality. During the International Confederation of Midwives, we celebrated midwives, health professionals, organizations and individuals working to improve the health of women and children around the world. In the scope of maternal, newborn, and child health there has been a lot of progress towards meeting the 2015 development agenda. Many countries are leading the way by offering critical health services and interventions for women and children.
Today, the conversation continues as the 2014 Success Factors for Women and Children’s Health report was launched at the Partners Forum for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Johannesburg, South Africa. The project began in 2011 and was birthed out of the 2010 Partners Forum. Ten “success factor” countries including, Peru, Egypt, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and China were reviewed. These ten countries have been labeled “fast track” countries which means they are on target to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5a to reduce child and maternal mortality. Fact track countries have long-term vision for the health and well being of women, children and communities.
The progress in each of these countries varies although all of the selected countries have seen immense change and positive outcomes for the health of women and children. Health interventions include immunizations, family planning services, quality care at birth. During this study, governments, ministers, health representatives and organizations initiated multi-sector approaches which included enhancing education, access to clean water and sanitation, poverty reduction, women’s political and economic participation and economic growth. Highlighted below are some of the key and integral successes of five out of the ten countries included in the report.
Between 1990 and 2010, the maternal mortality rate dropped in Cambodia by 5.8 percent. Cambodia initiated an amazing breastfeeding support media campaign. Positive messages related to breastfeeding were shown on television and included in a local soap opera. This program provided essential education for mothers and their families. Progress in maternal health is largely due to increased education for women and access to delivery services.
Together with Ministry of Public Health and USAID, Egypt began a program in the upper region, called Healthy Mother, Healthy Child (1993-2009). Through this program, antenatal, obstetric, and post-natal care services were offered to women and their families. This program also provided health workers with capacity building training and improved women and children’s health through providing comprehensive services to
Ethiopia’s Health Extension Program (HEP) is an innovative initiative to reduce maternal and child morbidity in the country. HEP promotes a midwifery training program, emergency obstetric care and access to family planning services. The program also trains health workers to provide basic maternal and child health services.
Lao PDR initiatives have aimed to improve interventions for sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health. The focus has been primarily on creating universal coverage supported by solid interventions and coordination among all stakeholders. Data has begun to drive effective change to provide free healthcare services to mothers and children under five years old.
In Nepal, reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health has been prioritized on the political agenda. The Local Self Government Act, aimed to improve women and children at the grassroots level. Under this Act, all people will have access to free healthcare as relegated by their specific State.