A World Health Organisation review of maternal health strategy has placed family inclusive practice as one of five global objectives: “4. Harness the power of parents, families, and communities, and engage with society.” (Chou D et al 2015)
This follows the earlier WHO recommendations on health promotion interventions for maternal and newborn health, also reported on Family Included.
Despite remarkable achievements to improve maternal and child survival, 800 women and 7700 newborns still die each day from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postnatal period. The 45% reduction in maternal mortality since 1990 falls far short of the target of 75% in millennium development goal 5.
The WHO paper reviews two strategies – Every Newborn: An Action Plan to End Preventable Deaths (ENAP) Strategies and toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) – and pulls out the key themes from the two.
Expanding on the objective to engage with families and communities, the report states:
“Ideally, families protect and care for women and newborns. Men have an important role in safeguarding family health, and they should receive support to do so. Evidence shows that women’s groups led by a skilled facilitator can improve maternal and neonatal health through participatory learning, particularly in rural settings with low access to health services. Trained community health workers can assist families to strengthen preventive and caregiving practices and facilitate appropriate care seeking. Participatory mechanisms at every level of the health system can help foster community engagement and ensure that services are transparent, inclusive, and responsive to those they serve. Civil society organisations, including parent groups, can contribute substantially to social mobilisation and can hold governments and health services to account for maternal and neonatal health commitments.”
Chou D et al (2015), Ending preventable maternal and newborn mortality and stillbirths, BMJ 351