A Manifesto for Maternal Health in a New Era

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

Today, The Lancet published “A Manifesto for Maternal Health post-2015,” which was co-authored by MHTF Director Ana Langer, along with Lancet Editor Richard Horton, and Guerino Chalamilla, the Executive Director of Management and Development for Health. The manifesto, proposed during the “Science for activism: How evidence can create a movement for maternal health” plenary session at last month’s Global Maternal Health Conference (GMHC2013), incorporates ideas that emerged from the conference as a whole.  Further, conference participants were invited to provide feedback on a draft of the document. As a result, the final version reflects the collaborative spirit of the conference in a concrete way.

As anyone who attended the meeting or who has been following the MHTF’s coverage of the GMHC2013 may have already gathered, the meeting was far more than just an opportunity to share technical insights, but a critical moment to reflect on the progress  that has been made toward reducing maternal mortality since 1990, as well as a chance to plan for the future.

From The Lancet:

The past 25 years of the safe motherhood movement have seen extraordinary successes—notably a 33% reduction in maternal mortality from 409 053 in 1990 to 273 465 in 2011. These achievements have motivated and mobilised a welcome new generation of political and financial commitments to maternal health.

But with the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) drawing to a close in 2015, a moment of uncertainty hangs over the fate of more than 200 million women who become pregnant each year. As the world moves towards the next set of development goals, will the gains of the past for women be protected, and can the unfinished business for the future be addressed? As a contribution to the process of redefining human development for women after 2015, participants at the Arusha conference supported writing a manifesto for maternal health based on the best available evidence, the lessons of safe motherhood from the past 25 years, and the more recent experience of the MDGs. We welcome a vigorous debate about this manifesto.

To read more about the GMHC2013, visit the conference site or the MHTF blog archive.