Maternal and Newborn Health

MSH works with governments and partners to develop strategies to deliver a wide range of services to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths. Our interventions reach women across the continuum of care—from pre-pregnancy through the postpartum period—and newborns through childhood. These interventions are integrated with family planning and HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria services, with attention to quality and respectful care within communities and in every other level of the health system.

Each year the world continues to lose almost 300,000 mothers as a result of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Among newborns, almost 3 million deaths occur within the first week of life. Yet for millions of mothers in low-resource settings, antenatal care is not routine, births are unattended, and postpartum care is nonexistent.

Ending this loss of life to preventable causes and improving maternal and newborn health is possible through the implementation of proven interventions. To this end, we build the capacity of local stakeholders, create national guidelines, mobilize communities, build workforces of health providers, improve quality of care in health facilities for family planning and case management, apply and use mobile technologies, and improve pharmaceutical management.

  • As part of the InterAmerican Development Bank-funded Salud Mesoamerica 2015 project, MSH assisted the governments of Panama and Chiapas State in Mexico to update official guidelines on maternal and newborn care and trained government trainers on their use.

  • MSH supported the updating of the national guidelines for maternal and newborn care in Honduras through the USAID-funded Local Technical Assistance Unit (ULAT) project. Guidance covered the case management of obstetric and neonatal complications, the use of Kangaroo Mother Care, and immediate initiation of exclusive breastfeeding.

  • USAID MIKOLO in Madagascar trained and supported community health volunteers and women's peer groups who referred 9,800 pregnant women for antenatal care, 1,500 women for obstetric emergencies, and 800 newborns for suspected complications in less than two years.

  • At the global level, the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program is collaborating with Save the Children and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop operational guidelines for the new WHO recommendations for management of newborn sepsis using oral antibiotics.

  • Through the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) project, MSH assisted the Ghazanfar Institute of Health Sciences and the Government of Afghanistan in establishing a community midwifery training school in each of the country's 14 provinces to train more female caregivers. As a result, the proportion of women who receive antenatal care has increased by 39 percent, and skilled attendants are present at 63 percent more deliveries in the communities served by the initiative.

  • The UN Commission for Life-Saving Commodities (UNCoLSC) was established to improve access to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health commodities on a global level and in focus countries. MSH, as a SIAPS program implementer, participates actively in the maternal and newborn technical reference teams of the UNCoLSC and has participated in the development of key technical documents and other activities at the global and country level.

  • Through the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project (IHP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MSH, from October 2013 to September 2014, helped 440,000 newborns receive essential newborn care services, including delayed cord clamping; immediate drying of the skin; immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and newborn; immediate, exclusive breastfeeding; clean cord care and prophylactic administration of chlorhexidine; and administration of vitamin K and ophthalmic ointment. Over the same period, 35,000 newborns cared for by project-supported providers received antibiotics for suspected infections. In selected health facilities, MSH has rolled out the Helping Babies Breathe and Kangaroo Mother Care programs.