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Maternal Health

Over the last two decades, the global community has witnessed a remarkable reduction in the annual number of maternal deaths worldwide. Yet, too many women continue to die in pregnancy and childbirth from preventable and treatable causes, and national maternal mortality averages often conceal large inequities within countries.

MCSP’s strategy for maternal health emphasizes a health systems and quality improvement approach to reduce direct and indirect causes of maternal morbidity and mortality. We address the major direct causes of maternal mortality, including postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, peripartum maternal infection, and prolonged labor. We also address the indirect causes that constitute an increasing burden of maternal mortality including prevention and treatment of anemia, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, hypertension and other chronic diseases.

We apply a health systems lens to work with national, regional and district managers and frontline health workers to strengthen essential health system functions and to continuously improve utilization and quality of maternal and newborn care across the system (community, primary, referral) and life cycle (antenatal care, birth, postnatal care) continuums of care.

We support work at three primary levels to advance coverage and quality of high-impact integrated maternal and newborn and postpartum family planning services in low-resource settings:

  • Sub-national health systems and service delivery
  • National policy and strategy
  • Global policy and initiatives

At the sub-national level, we work closely with regional and district government and partner stakeholders and frontline health care workers to strengthen integrated maternal and newborn routine and complications services with a strong focus on health systems strengthening and quality improvement. At the national level, MCSP works with national Ministries of Health and maternal and newborn stakeholders to advance favorable national policy and strategy. We regularly support national Ministries of Health to update national maternal health policy and strategies. At the global level, MCSP works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNFPA, the Maternal Health Task Force, the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality Working Group and other stakeholders to advance favorable maternal and newborn health policy and initiatives.

The Program coordinates efforts with routine monitoring and periodic evaluation to support global, regional, national and local learning and decision-making needs, and to advance reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health priorities. MCSP’s maternal health vision links closely with the Program’s strategies to engage communities and increase demand for health services, working toward equity in access to and quality of respectful care at both the community and facility levels.

To download MCSP’s maternal health fact sheet, click here.

Key Results


  • MCSP is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) to update the Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth manual (first published in 2000); the updated manual will be published in early 2017 along with a WHO/MCSP summary briefer.
  • The Program is a member of the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) working group and supports country implementation of EPMM strategic priorities, including incorporation of EPMM maternal mortality ratio targets and phase-one and phase-two indicators (currently under development) into country national strategies. MCSP supported the development of EPMM phase-one indicators summarized in a 2016 publication.
  • In close collaboration with country counterparts at national and sub-national levels, MCSP has supported improved coverage and quality of maternal health services for leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in 12 countries: Burma, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania.
  • MCSP has supported national governments in multiple countries to update national maternal and newborn policies, strategies, guidelines and training curricula in line with WHO and other global evidence-based guidance. For example, in Nigeria, the Program is working with the Ministry of Health and partners to develop a national maternal, newborn and child health quality improvement policy statement and strategy.
  • With the WHO and partners, MCSP supported the launch of the WHO Quality, Equity, and Dignity Network for maternal, newborn and child health in nine first-phase countries in February 2017. The Program helped develop the network monitoring framework and country implementation guidance and is a member of the network monitoring and implementation working groups. MCSP is providing close technical support in two of the nine first-phase network countries (Nigeria, Bangladesh/MCHIP Associate Award) and has helped introduce the WHO Quality of Care framework in multiple countries (Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda) to promote coordination of country MNCH quality improvement efforts.
  • MCSP participated in the WHO expert review group that developed the WHO Recommendations on Antenatal Care for a Positive Pregnancy Experience. The Program is collaborating with the WHO to develop summary briefs to highlight key antenatal care recommendations and implementation considerations.
  • The Program established and leads a PPH Implementation Community of Practice (CoP) as a forum for sharing implementation experience and learning related to comprehensive PPH prevention and management best practices in low-resource settings. The CoP, which includes representatives from multiple donor organizations, implementing partners, researchers and country representatives, met in June 2016 for a PPH implementation meeting in Washington, DC.
Maternal Child Survival Program
Maternal and Child Survival Program