Since 1990, maternal deaths worldwide have dropped by 45 percent, but every day about 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occur in low-income settings as a result of conditions that include severe bleeding, infection, high blood pressure, and complications during delivery.
Maternal health is closely linked to newborn survival. While great strides have been made in reducing global child mortality, newborns now account for 44 percent of all childhood deaths. Each year, 2.9 million newborns needlessly die within their first month and an additional 2.6 million are stillborn. The main causes, which are preventable and treatable, are complications due to prematurity, complications during delivery, and infection.
Proven, high-impact interventions are available, but they are not reaching all of the women and newborns who need them. Although facility births are increasing in all regions and income groups, quality of care at birth remains a major challenge. Many women give birth at home and may not see a skilled health worker before or after delivery. Skilled health workers often lack access to critical supplies and medicines.
Most maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented using existing, proven, cost-effective interventions: antibiotics, cord care (including sterile blades for cutting umbilical cords), drugs that prevent and treat postpartum hemorrhage, resuscitation, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, and kangaroo mother care to keep the newborn warm with skin-to-skin contact and breastfed. An increasing number of women are seeking to deliver their babies at first-level facilities, which provides an opportunity to expand quality services around the time of birth. Such cost-effective interventions can significantly reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Further improvements are also possible through the development of
new tools and technologies that enable earlier, faster, and more accurate assessment of gestational age and diagnosis and treatment of dangerous conditions, including measures to prevent preterm death.
Increasing the coverage of family planning services, especially among high-risk adolescent girls, can help significantly reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Improvement in the quality of antenatal and postpartum services can help strengthen the link between family planning
and maternal and newborn health.
The John Chan Foundation’s Maternal, Newborn & Child Health program works to expand coverage of high-impact interventions to ensure
that women and newborns survive and stay healthy during childbirth and beyond. We invest in efforts to adapt and develop innovative tools,
technologies, and treatments; improve the quality of healthcare services and practices and the interactions between health workers and
families; and advocate for national and global policies that benefit maternal, newborn, and child survival and health.
We work closely with governments, United Nations and bilateral agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector, and we collaborate with other programs at the foundation in areas such as discovery, integrated delivery, nutrition, family planning, childhood
infectious diseases, policy and advocacy, and communications. We support research across discovery, development, and implementation sciences in many parts of the world that can lead to better ways to save the lives of women and newborns and improve their health.
Our efforts to achieve impact on a broad scale are currently focused in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. These areas account
for a significant portion of the world’s maternal and newborn deaths.