maternal, newborn, child health care

An intervention brought together community health workers, health facility staff, and accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) dispensers to improve maternal and newborn health through a mechanism of collaboration and referral. Relationships among the three levels of care improved after the linkage intervention, especially for ADDO dispensers and health facility staff who previously had no formal communication pathway. The study participants' perceptions of success included improved knowledge of case management and relationships among the three levels of care, more timely access to care, increased numbers of patients/customers, more meetings between community health workers and health facility staff, and a decrease in child and maternal mortality.

This editorial introduces the Lancet series on maternal health.

In the past 30 years, debate has raged over maternal influence on infant death in Northeast Brazil. Scheper-Hughes, in two acclaimed articles and a book, sparked the controversy by alleging that nordestina mothers disinvest disfavored children of resources, thereby contributing to their deaths. We propose an interpretation of maternal investment through retrospective contextualization of a three-tiered series of factors. Between 2011 and 2013, we analyzed 316 ethnographic interviews about childhood death collected in the interior of Ceará. Our subsample comprises 58 death narratives from grieving mothers whose children died during the 12 months preceding the interview between 1979 and 1989; follow-up studies of 13 of those grieving mothers were conducted in 2011. Our sample closely resembles that of Scheper-Hughes, and from its stories we identify seven contexts—historical, political, economic, ecological, biological, social, and spiritual—that constrict how mothers grieve. Each context interrelates with the others, forming a cultural niche that regulates accepted emotionality, modes of suffering, roles of authority figures, and so on. We explore these contexts, offering alternatives to Scheper-Hughes’s theory, and conclude that a community-wide tendency to neglect never existed.

In 2013, an estimated 2.8 million newborns died and 2.7 million were stillborn. A much greater number suffer from long term impairment associated with preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital anomalies, and perinatal or infectious causes. With the approaching deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, there was a need to set the new research priorities on newborns and stillbirth with a focus not only on survival but also on health, growth and development. We therefore carried out a systematic exercise to set newborn health research priorities for 2013-2025. We used adapted Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative methods for this prioritization exercise. We identified and approached the 200 most productive researchers and 400 program experts, and 132 of them submitted research questions. These were collated into a set of 205 research questions, sent for scoring to the 600 identified experts, and assessed and scored by 91 experts. Nine out of top ten identified priorities were in the domain of research on improving delivery of known interventions, with simplified neonatal resuscitation program and clinical algorithms and improved skills of community health workers leading the list. The top 10 priorities in the domain of development were led by ideas on improved Kangaroo Mother Care at community level, how toimprove the accuracy of diagnosis by community health workers, and perinatal audits. The 10 leading priorities for discovery research focused on stable surfactant with novel modes of administration for preterm babies, ability to diagnose fetal distress and novel tocolytic agents to delay or stop preterm labour. These findings will assist both donors and researchers in supporting and conducting research to close the knowledge gaps for reducing neonatal mortality, morbidity and long term impairment.

Despite global progress in the fight to reduce maternal mortality, HIV-related maternal deaths remain persistently high, particularly in much of Africa. Lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) appears to be the most effective way to prevent these deaths, but the rates of three key outcomes—ART initiation, retention in care, and long-term ART adherence—remain low. This systematic review synthesized evidence on health systems factors affecting these outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women living with HIV. Low prioritization of maternal ART and persistent dropout along the maternal ART cascade were key findings. Service delivery barriers included poor communication and coordination among health system actors, poor clinical practices, and gaps in provider training. The few studies that assessed maternal ART interventions demonstrated the importance of multi-pronged, multi-leveled interventions. There has been a lack of emphasis on the experiences, needs, and vulnerabilities particular to HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Supporting these women to successfully traverse the maternal ART cascade requires carefully designed and targeted interventions throughout the steps. Careful design of integrated service delivery models is of critical importance in this effort. Key knowledge gaps and research priorities were also identified, including definitions and indicators of adherence rates, and the importance of cumulative measures of dropout along the maternal ART cascade.

Despite progress reducing maternal mortality, HIV-related maternal deaths remain high, accounting, for example, for up to 24 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in improving outcomes among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women, yet rates of initiation, adherence, and retention remain low. This systematic literature review synthesized evidence about individual and contextual factors affecting ART use among HIV-infected pregnant and postpartum women. Thirty-four studies were included in the review. Individual-level factors included both those within and outside a woman’s awareness and control (e.g., commitment to child’s health or age). Individual-level barriers included poor understanding of HIV, ART, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and difficulty managing practical demands of ART. At an interpersonal level, disclosure to a spouse and spousal involvement in treatment were associated with improved initiation, adherence, and retention. Fear of negative consequences was a barrier to disclosure. At a community level, stigma was a major barrier. Key structural barriers and enablers were related to health system use and engagement, including access to services and health worker attitudes. To be successful, programs seeking to expand access to and continued use of ART by integrating maternal health and HIV services must identify and address the relevant barriers and enablers in their own context that are described in this review. Further research on this population, including those who drop out of or never access health services, is needed to inform effective implementation.


Achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 for child survival requires acceleration of gains in newborn survival, and current trends in improving maternal health will also fall short of reaching MDG 5 without more strategic actions. We present a Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) strategy for accelerating progress on MDGs 4 and 5, sustaining the gains beyond 2015, and further bringing down maternal and child mortality by two thirds by 2030. The strategy takes into account current trends in coverage and cause-specific mortality, builds on lessons learned about what works in large-scale implementation programs, and charts a course to reach those who do not yet access services. A central hypothesis of this strategy is that enhancing interactions between frontline workers and mothers and families is critical for increasing the effective coverage of life-saving interventions. We describe a framework for measuring and evaluating progress which enables continuous course correction and improvement in program performance and impact. Evidence for the hypothesis and impact of this strategy is being gathered and will be synthesized and disseminated in order to advance global learning and to maximise the potential to improve maternal and neonatal survival.

Key components to support local institutional and consumer markets are: supply chain, finance, clinical use, and consumer use. Key lessons learned: (1) Build supply and demand simultaneously. (2) Support a lead organization to drive the introduction process. (3) Plan for scale up from the start. (4) Profitability for the private sector is an absolute.

The shortage of skilled birth attendants has been a key factor in the high maternal and newborn mortality in Afghanistan. Efforts to strengthen pre-service midwifery education in Afghanistan have increased the number of midwives from 467 in 2002 to 2954 in 2010. We analyzed the costs and graduate performance outcomes of the two types of pre-service midwifery education programs in Afghanistan that were either established or strengthened between 2002 and 2010 to guide future program implementation and share lessons learned. CME graduates achieved an overall mean competency score of 63.2% on the clinical competency assessment, compared to 57.3% for IHS graduates. Reproductive health activities accounted for 76% of midwives' time over an average of three months. Approximately 1% of childbirths required referral or resulted in maternal death. On the basis of known costs for the programs, the estimated cost of graduating a class with 25 students averaged US$298,939, or US$10,784 per graduate.


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