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Journal article

Maternal, newborn, and child health and the Sustainable Development Goals-a call for sustained and improved measurement [Comment]

by Professor Tanya Marchant

published 17 October 2015

Although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) sparked an increase in data collection, most countries still do not have timely data about how many of the women, adolescents, children, and newborns who need effective interventions are receiving them. This is unacceptable, and the global health community can do better.

This paper was written by measurement experts, known as The Kirkland Group, which met at Kirkland, WA, USA, in May 2015, to discuss how to improve meausrement for women, adolescents, children and newborns in the face of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

The authors of the paper suggest a measurement system based on several key principles:

  1. A core set of global indicators of effective coverage for maternal, newborn, and child health interventions, with targets and measurement methods that can be tailored to local settings.
  2. Data about maternal, newborn, and child health coverage must be relevant and useful in the country in which they are collected.
  3. New efficient and technically sound methods and instruments to collect and make use of coverage data, including data about service quality. Clinical observation is time consuming and expensive and household surveys ask women to recall events from up to two years ago. Both have problems and innovation is needed.
  4. Data about inequalities in coverage and outcomes are needed (e.g. disaggregated by subnational geographies, wealth quintiles, gender, urban or rural residence, access to health services) in order to focus programme resources on bridging gaps in coverage of life-saving interventions.
  5. Leadership is needed to prioritise measurement and evaluation within the global strategic agenda for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH), increasing the attention and investment given to data collection and use.


Grove, J; Claeson, M; Bryce, J; Amouzou, A; Boerma, T; Waiswa, P; Victora, C; Kirkland Group; Amouzou, A; Banerjee, A; Blanchard, J; Boerma, T; Bryce, J; Claeson, M; El Arifeen, S; Fournier, S; Goode, C; Grove, J; Guenther, T; Hay, K; Levin, C; Marchant, T; Mason, E; Moran, A; Nigussie, A; Requejo, J; Restrepo, MC; Semrau, K; Somers, K; Victora, C; Waiswa, P; Walker, N; (2015) Maternal, newborn, and child health and the Sustainable Development Goals–a call for sustained and improved measurement. Lancet, 386 (10003). pp. 1511-4.


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Professor Tanya Marchant

IDEAS Principal Investigator and Professor

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