R4D Announces New Project to Strengthen Mixed Health Systems, Improve Maternal Care

April 11, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Merck for Mothers — Merck’s $500 million global initiative to help create a world where no woman dies giving life — has selected R4D to lead a new two-year project titled, Strengthening Mixed Health Systems: Building the case and pathways for quality private maternal care (SMHS).

Many countries recognize their limitations in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage (UHC) through public provision of health services alone — and wish to better steward the private sector to do so. However, many governments lack information about the private sector in their countries, do not have a defined stewardship role, and/or are not supported by the appropriate institutional systems and processes to engage private providers in a mixed (public-private) health system. Similarly, the private sector in many countries wants to engage with the public sector, but they need government direction and guidance on what the strategic opportunities are and how they can engage with them.

Through this project, R4D will support two low- and middle-income countries in developing, implementing and documenting practical and actionable processes for integrating quality private maternity care in their countries’ health systems. These processes will support both countries’ efforts to achieve the SDG targets to lower maternal mortality and achieve universal health coverage — serving as models for other countries with similar goals.

“Globally, approximately 40% of women, including women in lower-economic strata, receive maternal and family planning care from private providers. Investing in quality private care is critical to reducing maternal mortality and achieving the SDGs and UHC,” said Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead and Executive Director of Merck for Mothers. “Merck for Mothers is proud to partner with R4D on this important project to provide a roadmap for how best to integrate private care into health systems, so every woman has access to quality maternal care regardless of where she seeks care.”

This project will generate evidence on how to successfully integrate quality private maternal care into mixed (public-private) health systems through engagements in two low- and middle-income countries at critical stages of the public-private engagement (PPE) process. The project seeks to support both new PPEs and help optimize existing country PPEs that aim to reduce maternal mortality. The project will synthesize learnings from the two country cases and an additional set of secondary case studies. These learnings and best practices for public — private sector engagement around maternal care will be shared globally.

“Improving maternal health remains a challenge in global health,” said Cicely Thomas, the project’s program director at Results for Development. “To ensure equitable access to high-quality maternal health care, countries need better solutions for gaps in existing service provision. This project provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the potential for public-private engagement to strengthen health systems and ultimately make motherhood safer for women around the world. R4D is proud to partner with Merck for Mothers, and we look forward to sharing knowledge and collaborating with others in the global community working to improve maternal health.”

Photo © Reverie Zurba, USAID/South Africa

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About Merck for Mothers
These programs are supported by funding from Merck, through Merck for Mothers, the company’s $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman dies giving life. Merck for Mothers is known as MSD for Mothers outside the US and Canada.

About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents around the world — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — to create strong systems that support healthy, educated people. We help our partners move from knowing their goal to knowing how to reach it. We combine global expertise in health, education and nutrition with analytic rigor, practical support for decision-making and implementation and access to peer problem-solving networks. Together with our partners, we build self-sustaining systems that serve everyone and deliver lasting results. Then we share what we learn so others can achieve results for development, too. For more information, visit our website at: www.r4d.org.

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