Call for Stories on What Didn’t Work in Maternal and Newborn Health

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By: Merck for Mothers

Global health researchers and donors are quick to report on program successes in conferences and publications but it is difficult to find documentation of what didn’t go as planned – programs or elements of programs that did not meet their objectives or had unintended negative consequences. As a result of a collective silence on what has not worked, we miss opportunities to learn from valuable experience, and ineffective approaches are often reinvented.

At this year’s Global Maternal Neonatal Health Conference, Merck for Mothers is working with the Maternal Health Task Force to help to break the silence around projects that didn’t give the expected results, and we need your help!

Do you have a story about a maternal health project that did not turn out as expected  that you would like to share? Send us a short story pitch (~200 words or <2 minute video) that outlines what didn’t work, what you learned (or failed to learn) from it, and whether/how you applied or are currently applying that lesson to course-correct the intervention or develop a future program.

We will examine two types of projects, or elements of projects, that did not work: those that are easily traceable back to a clear mistake or bad decision, and those that arose more slowly from an unavoidable confluence of factors which may or may not have been under the control of the program team. Both present opportunities for learning and growth.

As much as we love a good cliffhanger, we want to be sure that your story is a good fit with the others on the panel, so we will reach out to finalists to learn more.  Regardless of whether your story is chosen, we hope you can join us in Mexico City for an open discussion and analysis of “what didn’t work” in maternal and newborn health. Also, please submit only your own stories rather than highlighting the stories of others (no matter how good they are!).

Please send all story submissions to Caitlin Williams at  no later than May 15, 2015.