Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths

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By: Katie Millar, Technical Writer, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

USAID and the Governments of Ethiopia and India, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted a meeting on Wednesday, June 25th, called Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths. Diverse organizations—from the private sector and civil societies to faith-based organizations and governments—participated.

EPMM-blog-6.27.14Organization leaders discussed their approaches and commitment to maternal and child health. Ministers of Health from around the world attended and some spoke about country specific commitments. Adding his voice to the discussion, Dr. Kesete, from Ethiopia, stated there is no alternative but to increase and harmonize investments in an integrated health systems approach to save women’s and children’s lives. Also, Dr. Vardhan, of India, spoke of vaccines for children and facility births as priorities for the country. Several corporate voices were heard, as well. Highlighting Johnson & Johnson’s contribution to maternal and child health, Sharon D’Agostino, Vice President for Corporate Citizenship, announced the company’s five-year, $30 million commitment to support partnerships promoting maternal and newborn survival in resource limited settings.

EPMM-blog-6.27.14 (2)Two technical documents also were released: Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health Vision for Action and Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths. These documents summarize the progress made since 1990 and how USAID will help end preventable maternal and child deaths in the future.

The strategic focus of Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health Vision for Action, outlined three primary components:

  1. Enabling and mobilizing individuals and communities
  2. Advancing quality, respectful care
  3. Strengthening health systems and continuous learning

Each of the primary components is supported by specific strategic drivers, totaling ten in all. Especially important drivers are to promote data for decision-making and accountability, advance choice and respectful maternity care, and improve working conditions for providers.

To fund these maternal and child health initiatives, USAID engaged private industry to identify current initiatives and program inefficiencies. $2.9 billion will now be dedicated to maternal and child health over the next three years—saving an estimated 500,000 lives.

The EPMM and strategic focus has prioritized 24 countries for maternal and child health interventions: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, and Zambia. Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths provides customized country plans for each priority country, in addition to approaches to specific maternal, newborn, and child health technical areas.

Please let us at the MHTF know what you think about USAID’s new vision for maternal and child health. And if you work in one of the 24 priority countries, share your reaction to the new vision for maternal and child health by contacting Katie Millar for more information on being a guest blogger for the MHTF.