PMNCH Knowledge Summaries (KS): Introduction

Background

The PMNCH Knowledge Summaries focus on action. Their immediate purpose is to help policy-makers and program managers turn promises made into lives saved – 16 million of them by 2015. The pledges committed towards this goal at the launch of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health1 in September 2010 are substantial. Beyond money, commitments were made on policies and the delivery of services. Governments from north and south, foundations, civil society organizations, academics, healthcare professionals and the private sector – all made pledges, promises and commitments.

An agenda for action

Everything now depends upon the action being well-informed and co-ordinated. The document in your hands provides knowledge to support action. The co-ordination will be helped along by a second document - the Global Campaign Report - which sets out an agenda for action across sectors agreed by world leaders.

The first 12 Summaries were produced for the the 2010 Partners’ Forum of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), and reflected the Forum's three main themes to help transform pledges into action:

  • Voices and accountability – ensuring that all communities are supported in speaking out on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, and that all stakeholders are held accountable.
  • Innovation for change – finding new ways of making the policies, managing finances and delivery, and monitoring RMNCH interventions.
  • Engaging all actors – working with partners outside the RMNCH community, including other health communities (e.g. HIV/AIDS and malaria) and other sectors that affect RMNCH (e.g. water and sanitation, nutrition and education).

The Knowledge Summaries

The Knowledge Summaries reflect two strong principles at the heart of the PMNCH: the need to take action based on the best knowledge available, and the need to make the best knowledge accessible. Addressing these needs is the rationale for one of the six Priority Action areas for PMNCH: the creation of a knowledge management system.The added value from this activity lies in its capacity to act as a vehicle not only for sharing knowledge across a diverse range of partners, but also for developing consensus on key messages and strategies.

There are huge challenges in bringing together bodies of technical knowledge in just a few pages and for a diverse audience – advocates, policy-makers, program managers, health professionals and so on.

The first twelve summaries were brought together in one document specifically for the PMNCH 2010 Forum. The intended usual route for sharing summaries will be the PMNCH knowledge portal (http://portal.pmnch.org). This will enable knowledge sharing to be more interactive, with summaries and other knowledge products improved and updated as relevant new findings emerge.The knowledge management process not only ensures accessibility, but also reassurance of the technical content – the best currently available. These Knowledge Summaries bring together information from trusted sources, such as systematic and structured literature reviews, global policy documents, and statistical reports.The material used to build the summaries has therefore been peer- reviewed and published by a credible source, and is based on evidence from research and program experience. Some topic areas have lots of published literature to draw upon and others have comparatively little, and so inevitably the summaries vary in depth of understanding and in confidence around “what works.” Each Knowledge Summary has itself been peer-reviewed and will be updated prior to formal publication in the online edition.

The global community acts

The knowledge presented, in combination with the pledges made to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, will make possible a major step towards a more humane world where every woman, adolescent girl, newborn and child can realize their rights to live healthy and productive lives.They should no longer suffer and die when there are proven, affordable and readily available means of sparing them. Every year, around eight million babies and children and more than 350,000 women still die of preventable causes.

The global community is rising to this challenge.The G8 has, for the first time, launched an RMNCH initiative: the Muskoka Initiative. And the African Union (AU) Summit focused on “maternal, infant and child health and development in Africa” and committed to a co-ordinated campaign of action in member states.

We know what works

Progress is encouraging: child deaths have declined steadily over the past decade, and new data confirm that the number of women dying owing to pregnancy and childbirth has fallen by a third since 1990.We have the chance now to honor not only the commitments made to the Global Strategy, but our common obligations to protect women’s and children’s rights. Perhaps the most important knowledge of all is the knowledge that we can succeed. With the world focusing on women’s and children’s health, we know more than ever how to achieve our aims. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says:

"We know what works – we have achieved excellent progress in a short time in some countries.The answers lie in working together to strengthen health systems and ensure universal access to essential services and life-saving interventions".

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