Maternal and Child Health

MEASURE Evaluation enables countries to use appropriate methods of estimating maternal mortality at national and subnational levels.

The reduction of maternal and under-five mortality is among the most pressing of global health priorities. Pre-term birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and other health challenges result in 6.6 million deaths per year for children under age five, most of them preventable. While most pregnancies proceed normally, complications can arise suddenly and be fatal if not promptly treated. Recent estimates indicate that there are 289,000 maternal deaths per year. What is most tragic is that a majority of maternal and under-five deaths could be prevented with known interventions and treatments. Moreover, high numbers of maternal and under-five deaths are a clear indication that many women and newborn are not receiving the basic health services that they need.

To address this issue, MEASURE Evaluation enables countries to use appropriate methods of estimating maternal mortality at national and subnational levels. This is a key step in helping countries prevent maternal deaths, because understanding the magnitude of the problem and the main causes of death leads to more effective interventions. MEASURE Evaluation is also undertaking studies to evaluate newborn health interventions and subnational-level differences in neonatal mortality. Many countries lack complete vital statistics registration systems, meaning that not all births and deaths are recorded, and cause of death can be difficult to obtain since many occur outside clinical settings.

MEASURE Evaluation has held workshops with participants from statistics offices in country, ministries of health, and international organizations on estimating maternal mortality from census data, and contributes to the literature demonstrating the use of the census approach. MEASURE Evaluation also develops tools, such as the Post-Census Verbal Autopsy Guide, that allow countries to obtain cause of maternal death information. MEASURE Evaluation uses mapping to enable countries to understand variations in maternal and newborn mortality, cause of death, and service availability at subnational levels. Such information can help program planners and policymakers better target services.

Other key areas of focus are:

  • Participation in the Saving Newborn Lives Newborn Health Technical Working Group, focused on newborn health, neonatal mortality, and postnatal care;
  • Capacity building for development and application of tools and methods, data use, and data dissemination on registration systems and mortality estimations;
  • Support for a USAID key goal: ending preventable child and maternal death.