Adapted with permission from the Maternal Health Task Force blog
Persuading donors and researchers of the value of rigorous evaluation and implementation science is crucial to support progress towards eliminating preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and promoting women’s health, finds a new study by the Maternal Health Task Force. The findings of the study could help shape the landscape of maternal health over the next decade.
Between June and October 2014, the Maternal Health Task Force asked 26 international maternal health researchers about the most critical and neglected areas for knowledge generation to improve maternal health in low- and middle-income countries.
The IDEAS project is addressing many of these areas including implementation science, rigorous evaluation of maternal health innovations, quality of care in Ethiopia, NE Nigeria, and Uttar Pradesh, India, and work on private and unregulated providers in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Persistent and critical maternal health knowledge gaps
- Implementation research for health system strengthening
- Improving the quality of maternal healthcare
- Improving the quality and availability of information about maternal mortality
- Supporting women’s empowerment
- Increasing the availability and uptake of contraceptionIncreasing access to safe abortion services
- New treatments for major causes of maternal death
Crucial issues that need more attention from researchers and donors
- Health Workforce
- Leadership and supervision
- Private/unregulated providers
- Preventing and eliminating disrespect and abuse
- Over-medicalisation of birth
- Demand generation
- Maternal morbidities
Emerging challenges that need research
- Increasing burden of non-communicable diseases
- Persistence of social and economic inequality
- Information and communication technologies to enhance maternal health
- Translating knowledge about the developmental origins of health and disease into practice
- Geopolitical factors influencing maternal health
To make progress, respondents noted the need to incorporate health systems thinking, overcome narrow specialisations in maternal health, and conduct interdisciplinary research. They also called for thinking strategically about evidence for policy advocacy. Finally, respondents observed that persuading donors and researchers of the value of rigorous evaluation and implementation science is crucial to support progress.