According to a recent study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the World Bank, around 80% of women in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to the minimum package of essential maternal health services that could save their lives and those of their newborn babies. This statistic illustrates the extent of the inequality in health coverage for women in these countries. Moreover, this lack of access to necessary services is a major factor in the high number of maternal and neonatal deaths in these developing regions—300,000 women and 3 million babies in 2016—and the vast majority of these deaths were due to avoidable causes.
The third edition of the Safe Mothers and Newborns leadership workshop took place in Nairobi, Kenya, last week, from 11 to 16 June. The workshop faculty were joined by 40 participants from 27 countries, including health professionals, researchers, policymakers and programme directors working in the field of maternal, child and reproductive health in countries with high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. The workshop provided a forum where participants could share ideas, present their experiences, and develop their skills and technical knowledge, with the aim of empowering them in their professional roles.
The workshop, first held in Barcelona in 2015 and in Boston in 2016, is organised by ISGlobal, the Maternal Health Task Force of the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Aga Khan University. These academic institutions, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have formed an alliance aimed at accelerating the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality.
Over the course of the week, the participants broadened their knowledge of the main factors and trends affecting maternal and neonatal mortality worldwide and of possible interventions for improving health and survival. They also reviewed the available metrics for monitoring and evaluating progress as well as indicators for assessing the quality and coverage of maternal and neonatal health interventions. Finally, they discussed effective leadership and programme-management strategies that could expand coverage of proven interventions and help to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.
Two regional workshops will be held in 2018, one targeting French-Speaking Africa and the other Latin America. The programmes of these workshops will focus on issues specific to each region and the interventions best suited to each setting, with the aim of accelerating progress in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in these areas.