Gates Foundation Reflects in “Family Health Checkup” Blog Series

Posted on

By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

This year, as the family health team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation undertakes its annual strategy review, its members are contributing to the Family Health Check Up blog series. In the post introducing the series, Gary Darmstadt, the Foundation’s Director of Family Health writes:

This year’s six-part Family Health Check Up 2013 blog series is intended to present the evolution of our thinking leading to adjustments to our strategy, highlight lessons learned from our investments last year, and give some insight into plans for the coming year in pursuing our vision collaboratively across Family Health.

The series is a great resource for simply learning more about the Gates Foundation’s work. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on some major developments in maternal, newborn and child health, such as last year’s London Summit on Family Planning, an event generated remarkable new commitments, as well as the upcoming launch of a new Family Planning program in June 2013. As a whole, the series provides an opportunity to consider connections across the spectrum of family health issues, as well as among research and evidence, health programming and policy.

In the second series post, “The Health of Mother and Baby,” Mariam Claeson, the Family Health team’s Deputy Director of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health and Gary Darmstadt reflect on progress and priorities specifically related to advancing maternal and child health. They highlight the ways that driven by evidence, the MNCH strategy has been adjusted in the past year, maintaining an integrated approach to maternal, newborn and child health, with new emphases on preterm births, as well as improving quality of care for the increasing numbers of women who are  delivering in facilities health facilities around the world. They write:

While we continue to support efforts to ensure that more women have access to a skilled attendant at birth and to life-saving commodities and emergency care if necessary, we need to place more emphasis on assuring that quality of care is provided at health facilities, to respond to the increasing demand for those services.  We need to identify effective strategies and define our role, to improve the quality of intrapartum care at facilities, with a better understanding of barriers and facilitators to effective intrapartum and immediate maternal and newborn care. The increased focus on intrapartum and postnatal care brings together maternal and neonatal health efforts and is an important adjustment to our MNCH strategy.

Throughout, the series presents questions that the team is considering as it seeks to refine its strategy, often underscoring the need to develop integrated approaches. For instance, in the most recent post, which focuses on maternal and child nutrition underscores the connections between these and  issues such as WASH, agriculture, education, and social protection.

To join the discussion on Twitter, follow @gatesfoundation and @gdarmsta. Visit Impatient Optimists for the latest posts in the Family Health Check Up series, or to stay up to date on the Gates Foundation’s work on maternal, newborn and child health, family planning or other major global health and development issues.