Measuring Coverage of Life Saving Interventions

This blog was co-authored by Deborah Sitrin, Save the Children and Allisyn Moran, USAID.

Measuring coverage of life-saving interventions is critical to monitoring progress in improving Maternal Newborn and Child Health. These data provide important information to adjust health programs, identify inequities in coverage, and document program successes that can be replicated. Rigorous measurement supports implementation of successful high impact programs to scale up life-saving interventions that have the potential to save lives.

On May 7th, PLOS Medicine released a collection of papers on measuring coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health. The collection was launched at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The papers highlight evidence-based interventions to improve MNCH survival, and describe the need for regular high-quality measurement of the coverage of these interventions as essential to support sound decisions at various levels. The collection of 16 articles includes both reviews of indicators for MNCH as well as research articles on validity of coverage measures.

The collection outlines key messages to improve coverage measurement for MNCH. For example, large-scale household surveys, such as USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) or the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), are the cornerstone of coverage monitoring. The collection argues that it is crucial that these surveys are sustained to capture progress and trends in inequities, even as routine health information systems improve. These surveys, which typically occur every five years, could be supplemented with “lighter” surveys every 1 to 2 years. Further investment in assessment of health facility, including delivery of specific interventions, should be collected to supplement coverage data from household surveys.

This collection highlights the critical role measurement plays in continuous improvement and scale up of programs to improve the survival of women, newborns and children. It is essential to continue to develop, test, and collect valid and reliable measures to save lives.

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