'Champions for Change': marking the achievements of the MNH programme.

Position:News from ICM members and partners - Maternal and Neonatal Health

The Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) programme, based at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, closed in September 2004, after five years of worldwide action which helped to lay the foundations for many new strategies in safe motherhood.

In June, at an end-of-project meeting in Washington, DC, programme partners gave presentations on the themes: establishing evidence-based standards of care for maternal and newborn health; implementing integrated maternal and newborn health services; igniting change with social mobilisation and innovative communication campaigns; extending programming beyond MN H Program boundaries through initiatives like the regional expert trainers, the White Ribbon Alliance, the ICM/FIGO Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH) Initiative; and safe motherhood strategies in times of conflict.

Experts trained under the MN H 'Regional Expert Development Initiative' gathered in Accra, Ghana, July 25-31, for a meeting called 'Champions for Change: Increasing Maternal and Newborn Survival.' This was the first opportunity for the regional experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to come together and share lessons from their work. With the close of the MNH Program, the network of experts will now be housed with the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health (for more details, please contact: Petra ten Hoope-Bender at tenhoopebenderp@who.int)

The MNH Program partners learned much to inform future programming in maternal and newborn health.

First and foremost, partnerships are critical to success. MNH worked with more than 50 partners both globally and at the country level to implement a range of activities. A variety of MNH Program tools and approaches are now in use by partners such as UNICEF, UNFPA, and Columbia University's Averting Maternal Death and Disability program, which further expands USAID's investment in safe motherhood.

Second, innovation is central to effective programming. Building on the lessons learned from MotherCare and the experiences of other partners, the programme contributed to:

* Moving away from a risk based approach in antenatal care to promote focused antenatal care

*Implementation of a performance and quality improvement approach for essential maternal and newborn care-using evidence-based standards of care

* Expanding the concept of birth preparedness to include complication readiness, linked to behaviour change and community and social mobilisation


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