Reflecting on the Maternal Health Collections

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In celebration of the MHTF-PLOS Maternal Health collaboration we take a look back through the collections and highlight some of the most influential and interesting articles included in the collections.

In November 2011, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and PLOS Medicine embarked on a 3 year partnership culminating in the launches of 3 collections focused on improving maternal and infant health globally. Today we take a look back through the achievements of these collections and using article level metrics gather a picture of the diverse issues and solutions for women and their offspring.

Year 1: Quality of Maternal Health 

Announced in PLOS Medicine, the theme was chosen to highlight the continued need for attention and action to improve the overall quality of maternal health.

Following the call for papers and rigorous editorial and peer review, 18 articles were published from a wide range of authors and settings, including 14 original research articles and 4 policy and health in action papers.

One of those Health in Action articles, The Midwives Service Scheme in Nigeria, focused on a project to balance the level of care through Nigeria – so both urban and rural-based mothers received a similar level of care at births. The outcome of this project indicated an uneven improvement in the quality of care received, with the availability and retention of trained midwives noted as a particularly major challenge faced.

Year 2: Maternal Health is Women’s Health

In November 2012, we called for papers for the second year of the collection. The theme recognized the importance of considering maternal health in the context of women’s health throughout their lifespans.

A celebratory event was held in December 2013, featuring authors of the collection sharing their insights and lessons learned.

A prominent topic of this discussion was addressed by Dr. Agampodi through his PLOS ONE paper, Antenatal Depression in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and the Factor Structure of the Sinhalese Version of Edinburgh Post Partum Depression Scale among Pregnant Women’. The conversation focused on working towards a coordinated consensus in order to treat ‘minor aliments’, such as nausea, vomiting and lower back ache, during pregnancy, primarily concentrating on best-practice treatment for Sri Lankan women.

Year 3: Integrating Health Care to Meet the Needs of the Mother–Infant Pair

Moving into the final year, we chose the theme of integration with the aim of strengthening the evidence for approaches to providing combined care for both mothers and infants.

The culmination of this collection highlighted the pressing need to consider treatment and prevention simultaneously to form a clearer understanding of the importance for the integration of care.

The MHTF followed up with one of the collection authors, Yaliso Yaya, whose paper, Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in South-West Ethiopia: Estimates and Socio-Economic Inequality, highlighted the importance of strengthening obstetric inventions in rural Ethiopia. Dr. Yaya concluded with advice to include the results of all pregnancies and not just the pregnancy outcomes to ensure proper antenatal controls and referrals to institutions when required.

Three Very Global Collections

From Argentina to Zimbabwe, the articles in the collections were submitted from over 400 institutions around the world.

Representing work from low- and middle-income countries including Burundi, China, DRC, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nepal, Nigeria, New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia, as well as high income countries, the collections were distinctly diverse, setting them apart from other collections in the field.

This post originally appeared on the PLoS’ blog, Speaking of Medicine.