Every year, more than six million children under age 5 die from preventable causes and nearly 300,000 mothers die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes (WHO 2016). High-impact interventions to reduce preventable maternal and child deaths exist, but they cannot be sustained within weak health systems.
Effective and resilient health systems are needed to ensure access to high-quality services for mothers and children across the continuum of care. Holistic health systems strengthening efforts combined with clinical- and community-based interventions can help to sustain reductions of and further decrease preventable maternal and child deaths globally.
R4D’s approach to strengthening health systems for maternal and child health services often begins with a focus on an individual system component like financing or health workforce. It also incorporates a holistic approach to ensure supportive management, governance and policy functions, which together produce sustainable improvements to the health system and, ultimately, to maternal and child health service delivery.
R4D’s maternal and child health work seeks to improve sub-national management systems and capacity, incorporate financial planning and analysis into sustainability planning, and monitor and improve the design of high-impact maternal and child health interventions to better target the underserved.
In addition to strengthening health systems, R4D works to improve maternal and child health in other ways:
- We generate evidence about what kinds of maternal and child health interventions are most effective.
- We work to ensure mothers and children are well nourished, which can build resilience, prevent illnesses and save lives.
- We work to ensure access to safe water and sanitation, averting waterborne illnesses to which mothers and young children are particularly susceptible.
- We conduct analysis and work with change agents to shape global and country-level markets to address inefficiencies and dramatically expand access to affordable, high-quality maternal health commodities and services.
- We work with private health care providers and intermediary organizations to overcome key challenges and improve sustainable access to key family planning and sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls.
Photo: Jacaranda Health © Center for Health Market Innovations/Results for Development