The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) have been awarded £2.8m to improve maternal and newborn health in five target countries - Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bangladesh, India and Sierra Leone.
Each year more than half a million women and four million babies worldwide die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, nearly all in developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The three year programme 'Making it Happen', funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), will evaluate how training and supportive supervision of health care providers in developing countries improves the quality and uptake of care that will save the lives of mothers and their babies.
Dr Nynke van den Broek, Head of the Maternal and Newborn Health Unit at LSTM, explained that the reasons why women and babies die are largely known and there is now international agreement for what needs to be in place: “A skilled birth attendant – a doctor or midwife – and the availability of essential obstetric and newborn care are critical to reducing maternal and newborn deaths. RCOG and LSTM will be working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and sister professional associations in each country to improve national capacity to deliver good quality care. Put simply, increasing the provision of skilled birth attendance and appropriate obstetric and newborn care will reduce the numbers of women and children dying in childbirth.”
RCOG Vice President (International) Dr Tony Falconer said: "This is very good news for women in under-resourced countries. Mothers are dying needlessly in many countries due to a lack of access to the very basic care that we take for granted in the West."
The programme will demonstrate and evaluate a new intervention model which will be adapted to specific conditions in each country. The five target countries in Asia and Africa will also work together to 'share lessons learnt'.
Dr van den Broek added: "With this grant we will be able to increase the number of skilled health professionals providing high quality maternal and neonatal care and generate more demand for these services amongst women, as well as improving data on maternal and newborn health to influence policy at national and international levels."
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