By Naftali Mwaura
A comprehensive three year global study has revealed innovative measures that countries should scale up to reduce the toll of maternal and infant deaths.
The study dubbed “Essential Interventions, Commodities and Guidelines for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health”, highlights critical evidence based interventions that would assist low and middle income economies boost health of women and Children.
It was released on December 15th by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Aga Khan University and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH).
The new study will assist poor countries make prudent decisions regarding policy development and resource allocation to promote women and children’s health.
An estimated 50,000 scientific papers were reviewed during the study to determine the effectiveness of interventions and impacts on survival.
According to a pres statement, “the study identified 56 essential. interventions that, when implemented in packages relevant to local settings, are most likely to save lives”.
The statement adds “these interventions include, managing maternal anemia with iron, preventing and managing post partum hemorrhage, and prompt thermal care for newborns”.
Expanding access to antibiotics for treating pneumonia in children as well as providing nutritional requirements for small and preterm babies will significantly reduce infant deaths.
Elizabeth Mason, Director, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health and one of the study authors remarked “what is new, is putting together information in a different way and build consensus among physicians, scientists and professional bodies to lay out an evidence-based path to help women before, during and after birth and their children”.
She added “everyone now agrees on the 56 interventions”.
Initial stage in the study involved comprehensive analysis of what countries were doing to reduce maternal and infant deaths.
A total 142 interventions were assessed for their efficacy and impact on survival by addressing the leading causes of maternal, newborn and child mortality.
According to the study authors, health and outreach workers with limited training were asked which challenges they could handle at community level in the absence of specialized care.
The authors identified what could be handled in community settings by nurses, midwives and workers with better training.
Extensive consultation and review by a wide group of experts led to selection of 56 essential interventions, accompanied by brief guidelines and reference materials.
Carole Presern, the Director, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn& Child Health (PMNCH), acknowledged that “we now have a clear consensus, critical for the survival of women, their infants and children. This was a meticulous effort involving many partners. It is truly a landmark moment in advancing the health of women and children”.
Maternal and infant deaths remain a huge challenge in developing countries.
Nevertheless, this study will assist policymakers in rolling out crucial interventions that halt maternal and infant deaths.
The study as well provides clear guidance on what is needed in terms of training and equipment.
Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Chair of Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Pakistan, stressed that “am sure this research will help to reduce deaths among mothers, newborns and children and will help direct funds and resources to concerted action based on the best evidence for impact”.