Making change: Strengthening health systems to address maternal and newborn death

Maternal death is one of the most telling injustices in the world. Women in sub-Saharan Africa face a one in 39 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly thereafter. In developed regions, it’s one in 3,800.

This shameful inequity reflects a larger truth: In developing countries, fragile health systems fail women who experience life-threatening complications. Many would survive if their health systems functioned properly - every step of the way from home to hospital - to provide the emergency care they desperately need.

AMDD is working to ensure all women have access to life-saving care.


Transforming health systems so more women survive pregnancy and childbirth

AMDD has long promoted emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) as a key strategy to prevent maternal and newborn death. The global health community has now reached consensus that EmONC saves lives, but is still working to guarantee universal access to these services.

Moving forward, country health systems must grow strong enough to implement EmONC on a national scale. 

AMDD works in partnership with national governments, United Nations agencies, and international and local non-governmental organizations to build the capacity of health systems to care for all citizens. While AMDD focuses on transforming health systems to deliver EmONC, the changes we promote can vastly improve other health services. With strong national health systems, it’s easier for countries to lift themselves out of poverty – ultimately saving countless more lives.

How we make it happen: Advancing evidence, lending expertise, and advocating for change

AMDD works to strengthen health systems and the implementation of EmONC services through:

  • researching and building evidence for innovative solutions

  • sharing technical expertise with our partners

  • analyzing health systems policy

  • advocating for a health systems and human rights approach to making change

Our deepening focus on implementation: Ensuring action on the ground

It is absolutely critical that health systems provide seamless care in case of emergency – from transporting patients to maintaining supplies and training health workers. Producing evidence, changing policy, and dedicating funding to each of these steps does not automatically translate into high-quality services.

AMDD is focused on successfully and consistently implementing health services on the ground. That means understanding how to effectively convert policy into sound action that puts life-saving services in place for all women and newborns. Learn more about our evolution and future directions.

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