While there is no magic bullet that solves all maternal health problems, the great majority of maternal deaths can be prevented through simple cost-effective measures, which can be implemented even where resources are scarce.
The core strategies that have been demonstrated to improve maternal and newborn health are:
1. Access to family planning – counseling, services, and supplies
2. Access to quality care for pregnancy and childbirth
- antenatal care
- skilled attendance at birth, including emergency obstetric and neonatal care
- immediate postnatal care for mothers and newborns
3. Access to safe abortion services, when legal
A functioning health system, with a well-trained, motivated workforce, can deliver effective, safe, and high-quality health services to all segments of the population. Universal access to high-quality health care – provided in health facilities, staffed by skilled attendants; stocked with essential drugs, contraceptives, and reproductive health supplies; and equipped to provide the full range of essential services – prevents maternal and newborn death and injuries.
Every government and donor needs to prioritize and support these three strategies, within the context of global commitments to strengthening health systems, realizing human rights, involving communities, and prioritizing the needs of the poor and marginalized.