Acting on the Call: A Turning Point for Maternal Health

Acting on the Call: A Turning Point for Maternal Health

 {Photo credit: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu.}Abuja National Hospital, Nigeria.Photo credit: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu.

In years to come we will look back on the summer of 2014 and recall the US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths campaign as a turning point in our struggle to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality and morbidity. USAID announced this summer that it is realigning $2.9 billion of the Agency’s resources to refocus on high-impact programs with proven track records to save women, newborns, and children under five.

At MSH, we are very excited by the announcement and the potential impact it has on maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH). Coverage rates of many high-impact interventions rely on the ability of the health system to provide equitable, respectful, quality care at all levels, in which families are able to access services without incurring crippling out-of-pocket expenses. We support USAID’s decision to focus on 24 priority countries, which account for 70 percent of maternal and child health needs and half of the unmet need for family planning. In these countries, governments have demonstrated a commitment to working with partners for effective leveraging of USAID and other donor resources with country resources to strengthen the health system. This prioritization will be essential to having the greatest impact.

At MSH we, too, are at a turning point in our MNCH work. We are pleased to announce that Dr. Luis Tam will be joining MSH’s Center for Health Services as the Global Technical Lead for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health this month. Dr. Tam will be leading our technical approaches to MNCH, ensuring that lessons we learn by implementing, strengthening, and scaling-up health systems interventions are distilled and replicated across countries. Luis has 29 years of global health experience as a medical practitioner, public health specialist, program manager, and business development specialist for both government and international organizations. He has extensive experience in leading primary health care programming in USAID-funded and government-implemented projects. While working with CARE Peru (1998-2003), Plan International USA (2004-2011), and Medical Care Development International (MCDI, 2011-2014), Luis has significantly participated in business development endeavors. He played leadership, technical and/or management roles in securing more than $160 million of health awards from USAID (Washington and Missions); The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; World Bank; Global Sanitation Fund; and bilateral donors, such as the Department for International Development, Swiss, and French cooperation.

We are particularly proud that USAID's Family Planning Management Development Project, led by MSH, funded his Master of Public Health studies at Johns Hopkins University (graduating in 1989), and played a key part in his professional development. Luis joins MSH from Medical Care Development International (MCDI).

Since 1971, MSH has worked to save lives and improve the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and men, including in regions and countries disrupted by internal conflict, natural disasters, and war where women and children have the most difficulty accessing basic, essential health care. As we work with partners and local governments to create sustainable solutions to strengthen health systems long after we’ve gone, we look forward to looking back to this moment: the turning point in ending preventable maternal mortality.

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