How Can We Avert More Maternal Deaths…Now?

A breakfast event last week, organized by Jhpiego, brought together people to take on the issue of maternal health. The opening panel was moderated by the editor of the global health journal The Lancet, Richard Horton. He had the task of leading a discussion on interventions that are ensuring that mothers do not needlessly die. “We need to change,” said Horton in his opening remarks. “Why do we need to change? Because what we’re doing currently is not working fast enough.” He called on the panelists to answer what will be done differently when everyone leaves.

From the Jhpeigo blog:

In response to questions, panel experts cited a range of successful interventions that included: an increase in skilled birth providers, strengthened health systems, integrated service approaches that reach the most underserved, introduction of humanistic care in clinics and family planning.

As the global health community moves forward, “we shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel. We know what works. We just need to scale it up,” said Dr. Sennen Hounton, the panelist from UNFPA.

Added Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, of  the White Ribbon Alliance-India: “We have to hold everybody to account.”

With funding for global health flat-lining, Horton asked his colleagues what the role of donors should be in accelerating progress. Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, said he expects a shift in the traditional paradigm to one of “greater country ownership” of the programs and interventions that are keeping mothers alive and healthy.

“Governments need to step up to the plate far more than they have in the past,” he said, adding that he is optimistic about the prospects of funding for global health “but with a different equation.”

Watch to see the answers and discussion.