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Where do we stand? Monitoring and measuring progress in maternal, newborn and child health

published 9 February 2018

Countdown to 2030 is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration with an aim to support the monitoring and measurement of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health plus nutrition (RMNCAH&N) in the 81 countries that account for 95% of maternal and 90% of all child deaths worldwide.

A new article, published in The Lancet journal, looks at the current status of monitoring and measurement in RMNCAH&N. The article points out that: “To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the rate of decline in prevalence of maternal and child mortality, stillbirths, and stunting among children younger than 5 years of age needs to accelerate considerably compared with progress since 2000. Such accelerations are only possible with a rapid scale-up of effective interventions to all population groups within countries (…), supported by improvements in underlying socioeconomic conditions, including women’s empowerment.”


Dr Tanya Marchant of the IDEAS project speaks at the meeting in South Africa

A scientific meeting which took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in late January 2018 brought together a range of technical experts to take stock of current practices, advances and critical issues and to develop a priority research agenda. Dr Tanya Marchant, the IDEAS Co-Principal Investigator and member of the Countdown Technical Review Group placed a special focus on coverage measurement calling for standardized methods of measurement, a need for a clarification of complex data metrics and the importance of finding the right data to be used in each country.

The Lancet article sees three main conclusions based on an analysis of intervention coverage, equity, and drivers of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health in the 81 Countdown countries. “First, even though strong progress was made in the coverage of many essential RMNCH interventions during the past decade, many countries are still a long way from universal coverage for most essential interventions. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence suggests that available services in many countries are of poor quality, limiting the potential effect on RMNCH outcomes. Second, within-country inequalities in intervention coverage are reducing in most countries (…) but the pace is too slow. Third, health-sector (…) and non-health-sector drivers (…) are major impediments to delivering high-quality services to all populations. Although more data for RMNCH interventions are available now, major data gaps still preclude the use of evidence to drive decision making and accountability.”