Success Factors in Women’s and Children’s Health: Pathways to Progress
There has been significant progress worldwide towards Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5a—to reduce child and maternal deaths. Since 1990, maternal and child mortality rates have both reduced by around 50%, but the numbers of preventable deaths are still unacceptably high.
We know about the leading causes of preventable maternal and child mortality around the world and effective interventions to prevent them. But what we do not know is why some countries do better than others, despite having similar economic contexts.
The ‘Success Factors’ study, a two-year collaborative effort, seeks to answer two key questions:
- What factors distinguish high-performing countries from countries that did not perform as well in reducing maternal and child mortality, given similar levels of economic development?
- How have high-performing countries accelerated progress, related to the identified performance factors, and towards reducing maternal and child mortality?
To answer these questions, the study uses different methods including: a literature review , statistical analysis and econometric modeling of data across 144 low and middle-income countries; and policy analysis of 10 countries that were ‘on track’ to achieving MDGs 4 and 5a in 2012.
The statistical analysis shows that countries that performed well in reducing maternal and child mortality also improved progress in 10 linked policy domains. These policy domains do not come from the health sector alone, and include progress in girls’ education, infrastructure development, access to clean water and managing population dynamics.
The policy analysis of the 10 ‘on-track’ countries indicates that the challenges that countries faced, and their pathways to progress, are very context-specific and driven by local realities. Nevertheless, there are some shared lessons that emerge across these high-performing countries in the strategies they used to reduce preventable maternal and child mortality, despite challenges:
- Investing in health and ensuring value for money
- Diagonal approaches to promote targeted interventions and strengthen systems
- Local, robust evidence informs targets, implementation and monitoring
- Sustainable development investments across economic, social and environment sectors
- Stakeholders across sectors contribute to progress and together achieve greater impact
The next phase of the success factors study includes multi-stakeholder consultations in the 10 countries to review and finalize the draft country policy summaries. The draft findings for the overall study and the proposed recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda also will be further developed.
In addition to the country teams, the overall study is coordinated by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health with the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and other partner organizations.