maternal health

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals set targets for social achievements by 2015 including goals related to maternal and child health, with mixed success. Several initiatives supported these goals including assuring availability of appropriate medicines and commodities to meet health service targets. We compiled indicator data on 15 commodities related to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) and analyzed them across 75 Countdown to 2015 countries from eight regions to identify problems with specific commodities and determinants of access. The determinants related to policy, regulatory environment, financing, pharmaceutical procurement and supply chain, and information systems. We also developed a dashboard for policy and systems indicators for select countries. The commodities we identified as having the fewest barriers to access had been in use longer. No country reported recent stock-outs of all the 15 commodities at the central level—countries always had some of the 15 commodities available. This analysis highlights country deficiencies in policies and systems, such as incoherent policy guidelines, problems in product registration, lack of logistics data, and central-level stock-outs that may affect access to essential RMNCH commodities.

In 2011, the Malawi Ministry of Health introduced option B+, a universal treatment strategy for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. Under option B+, all pregnant or breastfeeding women with HIV are eligible for lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) regardless of clinical stage or CD4. Routine data from Malawi's prevention of MTCT option B+ programme suggest high uptake of antiretroviral therapy (ART) among pregnant women. Malawi's Ministry of Health led the National Evaluation of Malawi's PMTCT Program to obtain nationally representative data on maternal ART coverage and prevention of MTCT effectiveness. Here we present the early transmission data for infants aged 4–12 weeks and used a multistage cluster design to recruit a nationally representative sample of HIV-exposed infants and their mothers. Between October 16, 2014 and May 17, 2016, we screened for HIV in all mothers attending an under-5 vaccination or outpatient sick-child clinic with infants aged 4–26 weeks. They confirmed HIV exposure in 3542 (10·4%) of 33 980 mother (guardian)–infant pairs with infants aged 4–26 weeks. These data suggest that Malawi's decentralization of ART services has resulted in higher ART coverage and lower early MTCT. However, the uptake of services for HIV-exposed infants remains suboptimal.

The past decade has witnessed increasing global attention and political support for maternal, newborn and child health. Despite this increased attention, actual progress has been slow and sporadic: coverage of key maternal and newborn health interventions remains low and there are wide disparities in access to care, within and across countries.

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