This paper is part of a PLoS Medicine series on maternal, neonatal, and child health in Africa. Read paper one here.
Sub-Saharan Africa is at a critical point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child survival. Time is short so strategic action is needed now to maximize mortality reduction by 2015.
We estimated mortality reduction for 42 sub-Saharan African countries if high coverage of MNCH interventions was achieved, using the Lives Saved Tool (LiST). Nearly 4 million African women, newborns, and children need not die each year if already well known interventions reached 90% of families.
We also undertook a detailed analysis of nine African countries that estimated mortality reductions and additional cost for feasible increases in coverage of selected high-impact MNCH interventions considering three differing health system contexts. It revealed that a 20% coverage increase for selected community-based/outreach interventions would save an estimated 486,000 lives and cost an additional US$1.21 per capita. Increasing the quality of current facility births would save 105,000 lives and cost an additional US$0.54 per capita.
Functioning health systems require both community-based or outreach services and facility-based care. Maximizing mortality impact for Africa’s mothers, newborns, and children depends on using local data to prioritize the most effective mix of interventions, while building a stronger health system.