The third Sustainable Development Goal, focused on health, includes two targets related to the reduction in maternal, newborn and under-five childhood mortality. We found it imperative to examine the equity and coverage of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) interventions from 2001 to 2016 in Nepal; and the death aversion that will take place during the SDG period.
We used the datasets from the Nepal Demographic Health Surveys (NDHS) 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. We calculated the coverage and equity for RMNCH interventions and the composite coverage index (CCI). Based on the Annualized Rate of Change (ARC) in the coverage for selected RMNCH indicators, we projected the trend for the RMNCH interventions by 2030. We used the Lives Saved Tools (LiST) tool to estimate the maternal, newborn, under-five childhood deaths and stillbirths averted. We categorised the interventions into four different patterns based on coverage and inequity gap.
Between 2001 and 2016, a significant improvement is seen in the overall RMNCH intervention coverage-CCI increasing from 46 to 75%. The ARC was highest for skilled attendance at birth (11.7%) followed by care seeking for pneumonia (8.2%) between the same period. In 2016, the highest inequity existed for utilization of the skilled birth attendance services (51%), followed by antenatal care (18%). The inequity gap for basic immunization services reduced significantly from 27.4% in 2001 to 5% in 2016. If the current ARC continues, then an additional 3783 maternal deaths, 36,443 neonatal deaths, 66,883 under-five childhood deaths and 24,024 stillbirths is expected to be averted by the year 2030.
Nepal has experienced an improvement in the coverage and equity in RMNCH interventions. Reducing inequities will improve coverage for skilled birth attendants and antenatal care. The current annual rate of change in RMNCH coverage will further reduce the maternal, neonatal, under-five childhood deaths and stillbirths.