The following piece is part of a series highlighting Global Perinatal Health. Originally posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog, re-posted with permission.
There is surprising little synthesis of evidence across this continuum of care that specifically examines the interconnected benefits of interventions for the mother, fetus, infant, and young child. This realization prompted us to take a fresh approach to quantifying and assessing the quality of the evidence for joint benefit of interventions for averting maternal, neonatal and child deaths and stillbirths.
Despite the tremendous progress being made, every year, approximately 8.5 million women and children under 5 die from preventable causes and a further 2.6 million babies are stillborn.
More than a tenth (11 percent) of all newborns in developing countries are born with low birth weight, largely related to poor health and nutrition of their mother. Low birth weight increases the risk of infections and health problems later in life.
In continuation with the theme of the current series of papers in Seminars in Perinatology on Global Perinatal Health, it is important to underscore the importance of linkages between maternal, fetal, and newborn health.
Continuum of care for maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) is based on the concept that the health and well-being of women, newborns, and children are closely linked and can be managed in an integrated way, and that interventions at one stage of the life cycle profoundly affect the rest.
Our review of the evidence of a range of interventions addressing maternal, newborn, and child outcomes indicate that in addition to the well recognized interventions that save lives such as basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care, a range of interventions addressing fertility, maternal, nutrition, and maternal illness (such as diabetes, hypertensive disease of pregnancy, etc.) can have huge benefits for mothers and their young children.
Click on image to download a high-resolution pdf of this chart
We learned that when defining intervention packages for implementation in programs, we need to pay more attention to selecting a range of interventions on the basis of their interconnectivity (or benefits for mothers, newborns, and young children), impact across a range MNCH outcomes and potential for integration in health system settings.
Click on image to download a high-resolution pdf of this chart.
Such potential integration of strategies is cost-effective and would also allow for greater efficiency in training, monitoring and supervision of health care workers. It would also help families and communities to access and use services.