Suzanne Ehlers, the Interim President of Population Action International, wrote an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post on the early findings of their joint research with the Maternal Health Task Force on maternal health supplies. Ehlers writes in her post about maternal health research in Bangladesh and Uganda where they're learning...
- "Unlike family planning, there is very little direct donor funding for maternal health supplies. The shift to broader health sector and direct budget support, as well as financing from national governments' own resources, means maternal health issues can fall prey to other priorities in a budget process.
- Women and their families are often expected to pay out of pocket for essential maternal health medicines, such as oxytocin for post-partum hemorrhage, even when government facilities are supposed to provide free health care. This adds another obstacle for poor women in efforts to ensure safe delivery.
- No coordinated system exists for maternal health supplies in many countries and they are often not integrated into supply systems for other drugs, such as for family planning or newborn and child health.
- Furthermore, human resource issues -- having staff positions filled, ensuring providers are trained, and particularly being able to improve maternal health at the community level for the women who deliver at home -- are a tremendous challenge. Ensuring sufficient access to supplies alone is not enough when a health system is broken."
As Ehlers continues, "It is no wonder that Millennium Development Goal 5 -- improving maternal health-- is the most off track of all the millennium development goals." To learn more about how to achieve MDG5, download the Women Deliver publication Focus on 5: Women's Health and the MDGs.