Healthy women are the foundation of a strong community, and healthy newborns are the future. Yet each year, nearly 300,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and an estimated three million newborns die within the first month of life.1 Although these numbers have declined since 1990, there are still too many avoidable deaths, and the vast majority occur in developing countries, where adequate health services are often unavailable or inaccessible—leading many women to give birth in facilities without adequate equipment and staff, or at home without skilled providers. The declining maternal and newborn death rates do, however, validate the continued use of the high-impact, low-cost interventions to save lives that Jhpiego has promoted since its founding.
Jhpiego, an international health organization affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University, has been working to bring such life-saving measures to mothers and newborns around the world for four decades. Since 1998, we have led a series of U.S. Agency for International Development flagship global programs to increase maternal and newborn health and survival. Currently, we are leading the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP). Jhpiego works with private sector partners, like the GE Foundation to improve MNH services in Isingiro District, Uganda, and Laerdal Global Health to develop training materials targeting major causes of maternal mortality. In all of these multifaceted, international programs, Jhpiego plays a critical role in guiding the world’s efforts toward attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for reducing maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.
What Jhpiego Is Doing in MNH
Currently, Jhpiego has maternal and newborn health programs in 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through these ongoing efforts, we partner with ministries of health and hundreds of international and local organizations to address the barriers to use of high-quality maternal and newborn health care from the household to hospital.2 Our collaborations focus on an expanding range of critical technical interventions—drawing on our clinical expertise in obstetrics/gynecology, midwifery and newborn health—to increase access to skilled providers who, utilizing a framework of respectful maternity care, can deliver evidence-based interventions including:
- Focused antenatal care, a platform for integrating a broad range of services for improving maternal and newborn outcomes, including prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
- Increased capacity of skilled providers (doctors, midwives and nurses) to provide essential obstetric and newborn care to support normal labor and birth including presence of a companion, food and fluids, and use of desired positions for labor and birth
- Increased access to and use of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care, helping to ensure that the approximately 15% of births that develop complications are promptly identified and managed. This includes identification and management of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, prevention and treatment of obstructed labor (a major cause of obstetric fistula), postpartum hemorrhage and newborn asphyxia—some of the most common causes of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality
- Provision of family planning information and services during the antenatal and postpartum periods, another lifesaving intervention that has the potential to reach over 90% of women of reproductive age in high-fertility settings
- Increased access to and use of quality postabortion care services to prevent mortality from abortion complications
- Improved quality of services and infection prevention practices that help reduce postpartum and newborn infections
Jhpiego also recognizes the need to accelerate the development, delivery and impact at scale of new approaches to priority global health problems. These innovations will help in earlier diagnosis of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, in identification of abnormalities during labor, and in prevention of postpartum hemorrhage for women without access to skilled providers.
- 1 World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. 2012. Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival: Building a Future for Women and Children: The 2012 Report. Geneva: WHO and UNICEF. See full report at http://www.countdown2015mnch.org/
- 2 With funding from USAID, global entities (e.g., the British Department for International Development [DFID], UNICEF and WHO) and private corporations and foundations. See list of partners