Three-year study identifies key interventions to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths
The study reviewed more than 50,000 scientific papers to determine the proven effectiveness of interventions and impact on survival, identifying 56 essential interventions that when implemented in “packages” relevant to local settings, are most likely to save lives. The study is released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Aga Khan University and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).A new global consensus has been agreed on the key evidence-based interventions that will sharply reduce the 358,000 women who still die each year during pregnancy and childbirth and the 7.6 million children who die before the age of 5, according to a massive, three-year global study.
The study, Essential Interventions, Commodities and Guidelines for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, is designed to facilitate decision-making in low- and middle-income countries about how to allocate limited resources for maximum impact on the health of women and children.
Some of the interventions include:
- Manage maternal anaemia with iron
- Prevent and manage post-par-tum hemorrhage
- Immediate thermal care for newborns
- Extra support for feeding small and preterm babies
- Antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia in children.
“What is new,” says Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Director of WHO’s department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, and an author of the study, “is putting together information in a different way and building consensus among physicians, scientists and professional organizations to lay out an evidence-based path to help women before, during and after birth and their children. Everyone now agrees on the 56 essential interventions.”
The first step was a global landscape analysis of what countries and the 440 PMNCH partners were doing to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.Suitability for low- and middle-income countries”What came back was a hodge-podge,” says Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Chair of Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, who headed the study team. “PMNCH partners had very different ideas of what should be undertaken.” In all, 142 interventions were assessed for their effectiveness and impact on survival by addressing the main causes of maternal, newborn, and child mortality. Drs. Bhutta and Mason and their team also studied the intervention suitability for use in low- and middle-income countries.
They asked what health and outreach workers with limited training could handle at the community level where specialized care is not available. They identified what could be handled in community settings by nurses, midwives and workers with more training. They also identified which patients need to be referred to hospitals where physicians and emergency care are available. After very extensive consultation and review by a wide group of experts, the list was honed down to 56 essential interventions, accompanied by brief guidelines and reference materials.