Maternal, Newborn, Child Nutrition & Health

From 2000 to 2015, the world made incredible progress on maternal and newborn health.

But since 2016, maternal mortality rates have remained stubbornly static globally. Almost all maternal and newborn deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and communities. Two-thirds of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and almost one-fifth occur in South Asia. To change this, we must address underlying vulnerabilities—such as malnutrition—that often begin with the mother, are compounded by the physical stresses of pregnancy, and are tragically passed on to the baby, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of poor health. For example, poor nutrition during pregnancy puts women at risk for developing life-threatening complications such as postpartum hemorrhage and contributes to babies being born too soon or too small, increasing their risk of death and disability.

We believe it’s possible to interrupt this cycle by addressing the risk factors for both mother and baby. To do this, we need to combine a bold research and development agenda to identify, target, and ultimately reverse underlying biological vulnerabilities with an even bolder product launch and acceleration agenda to ensure the uptake of proven lifesaving products and practices.

In the past 10 years, researchers and clinicians have uncovered revolutionary information about maternal and child health—information about why babies die and what it would take to keep them alive. New data shows that scaling up seven innovations could save nearly 2 million more mothers and babies by 2030. Some of the most promising interventions are simple and low-cost and can be delivered by midwives and birth attendants in communities. These innovations and practices are already accelerating progress and boosting survival rates. They aren’t a comprehensive solution, but they can save thousands of lives every year, especially if they are used together to support the health of a woman and her baby.

Research and development are only part of the solution. Product introduction and the scaling up of quality products and services are key to bringing innovations to mothers and newborns. Given the decentralized or constrained systems for delivering these solutions in many countries, we work with in-country partners on creative and sustainable ways to introduce novel and existing MNCNH products. Each of these partnerships includes goals pegged to specific barriers, which can translate to impact on maternal and newborn mortality rates and stillbirth rates.

Urgent action is needed if the world is going to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and create a more equitable and safe future for all by 2030.