In 2000, many nations across the world adopted the historic United Nations Millennium Declaration, which includes eight critical goals. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 relate to reducing child and maternal mortality, respectively, underscoring the importance of these health factors in reducing poverty and promoting human development. The most recent Countdown to 2015 report, released in 2012, reveals that maternal mortality has declined overall during the last 20 years—from 543,000 deaths a year in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010.
However, with only nine Countdown countries on track to achieve MDG 5, and 25 countries that have made little or no progress, greater headway is needed. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for the largest share of maternal deaths.
According to the World Health Organization, all pregnant women are at risk of developing obstetric complications, and approximately 15 percent will develop life-threatening ones that require treatment at health facilities. Skilled birth attendants are prepared to manage and refer these cases as needed. In addition, they are trained to perform newborn resuscitation, which must be performed within the first minute after birth for newborns with compromised breathing.
In response to this need for skilled birth attendance, Jhpiego and partners have worked in more than 30 low-resource countries to improve the skills of providers who attend births. We take a systems approach to build the capacity of health care providers, so that interventions can continue long after we depart. This systems approach involves working with local institutions, including Ministries of Health, to: 1) improve in-service and pre-service training systems, 2) revise national policies and service delivery guidelines, 3) improve supervision systems, and 4) apply the Jhpiego-developed Standards-Based Management and Recognition (SBM-R®) approach to improve the quality of health care services.
To date, a total of 917,823 women have given birth with skilled birth attendants who benefited from support under the Jhpiego-led Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), the U.S. Agency for International Development’s flagship program for maternal and newborn health. As a result of Jhpiego’s work in strengthening the ability of these skilled birth attendants to provide high-quality care, thousands of these women’s lives were saved. In the years ahead, Jhpiego is committed to continuing and expanding this legacy.