Global Health Impact: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: Stronger Health Systems Save Lives

Global Health Impact: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: Stronger Health Systems Save Lives

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman

A woman. A newborn. A child. In many countries, their basic health and rights are tenuous. These women, newborns, and children are the health system.

A woman is ostracized: abandoned by her husband, her family, and her community. She suffered a fistula after giving birth to her son. After 20-plus years, an operation repairs her fistula; now, she is teaching again, and a part of the community.

An elementary-age girl learns about the benefits of optimal breastfeeding and nutrition in school, and shares the knowledge with her mother, who quickly adopts the practices with the girl’s new baby brother. The mother also applies the lessons to better nutrition for her older children, joins an Infant and Young Child Feeding Support Group, and helps educate her community on best practices.

A midwife at a rural health center takes a leadership course on midwifery management. She stays in touch with support and peer networks through her mobile phone -- and What'sApp. She and her team apply this same mobile technology concept to educate and support HIV-positive postnatal women to stay on antiretroviral treatment, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV to their newborns. (Read their stories.)

From households to communities to facilities to nations, MSH and partners are helping low- and middle-income countries build stronger health systems that improve maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH). Our MNCH interventions reach women throughout the lifecycle: from pre-pregnancy, to during pregnancy, through the postpartum period, to newborns,  through childhood, and at each level of the health system. Our MNCH work is integrated with family planning, HIV, TB, and malaria health services, with attention to quality and respectful care.

In this issue of Global Health Impact, see five ways to sustain high-impact and high-coverage MNCH interventions that significantly improve the health of large human populations and become part of the timeless fabric of their families, communities, and health system.