Improving the health of mothers and babies: Breaking through health system constraints

In this issue of id21 insights, the focus is on health of mothers and babies: <ul class='square_dot_ul'> <li><strong>Improving the health of mothers and babies - Breaking through health system constraints:</strong> Improving maternal health remains the most elusive of the Millennium Development Goals. Every minute, at least one woman dies from pregnancy-related causes: 99 percent of these are in developing countries. The majority of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, and are avoidable through using standard interventions and health care which all pregnant women and their newborns need.</li> <li><strong>Achieving universal coverage of maternal health care:</strong> Maternal health can only be improved if mothers receive care from pregnancy through to childbirth and beyond. For this to happen, health systems need to be strengthened with maternal, newborn and child health care at the core. For some countries this can be done relatively quickly, for others it will take far longer.</li> <li><strong>'Too much care' threatens maternal health:</strong> Whilst the major focus of international advocacy and policy for maternal health is on enabling women to have access to skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth, some women face severe morbidity, even death, from an excess of maternity care.</li> <li><strong>The impact of maternal health on poverty:</strong> The links between poverty and poor maternal health are well established. Poorer countries experience the highest rates of maternal mortality, whilst maternal death and life-threatening and debilitating illness are higher among women from poorer households. However, there is now growing evidence that poor maternal health can also exacerbate poverty.</li> <li><strong>Shortages and shortcomings - The maternal health workforce crisis:</strong> Providing maternal care requires a viable and effective health workforce. In many countries, and certainly in all countries where maternal mortality is high, the size, skills and infrastructure of the workforce is inadequate.</li> <li><strong>Generating political priority to reduce maternal mortality</strong>: Why do some serious health issues receive significant attention from political leaders and others get very little? To achieve the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing maternal mortality, governments must prioritise this issue.</li> <li><strong>A forgotten priority - Maternal health service infrastructure: </strong>Weak health service infrastructure contributes to poor maternal health. Apart from inadequate skilled human resources, substandard infrastructure includes poor access to functioning equipment and a lack of essential drugs and supplies.</li> </ul>

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    id21 insights health 11, August 2007 http://www.id21.org/insights/insights-h11/insightshealth11.pdf