Maternal Health

Both the GTP and Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP IV) identified maternal and newborn health as priority objectives with ambitious targets set to achieve the MDG goals. The gap in skilled health workforce, weak referral system, inadequate availability of Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) and under-financing of maternal health services have been identified as constraints affecting Maternal and Newborn Health on the supply side. On the demand side, cultural and societal norms, distances to functioning health centres and financial barriers have been identified as the major constraints.

Both the GTP and Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP IV) identified maternal and newborn health as priority objectives with ambitious targets set to achieve the MDG goals. The gap in skilled health workforce, weak referral system, inadequate availability of Basic and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) and under-financing of maternal health services have been identified as constraints affecting Maternal and Newborn Health on the supply side.

On the demand side, cultural and societal norms, distances to functioning health centres and financial barriers have been identified as the major constraints.
UNFPA's Response and Support:

  • Addressing the Human Resource gap for Maternal Health:

MSc Program on IEOS: UNFPA actively worked with the Ministries of Health and Education to initiate an MSc Program on Integrated Emergency Obstetrics and Surgery (IEOS). The programme ,which involves Task Shifting from Physician to Non-Physician Clinicians is currently running in 5 universities to address the huge inequality in access to CEmONC services between rural/ urban and rich/ poor.

Midwifery Program: Focuses on building national capacity to increase and improve quality of midwifery training. Funded by SIDA and the Maternal Health Trust Fund (MHTF) the support has been scaled up from 8 to 23 midwifery schools in the country. This support is proving to be critical to the Accelerated Midwifery Training Programme which the government is undertaking currently.
Anaesthesia programme: UNFPA is initiating support to 5 anaesthesia schools based on WHO's capacity assessment of anesthesia training universities.

  • Improving access:

Support is being given to provision of Comprehensive and Basic EmONC, equipping health facilities and strengthening referral link as well as generating demand through community mobilization and awareness creation efforts.

  • Aid effectiveness and Policy dialogue:

UNFPA has been involved in sector-wide approaches
(SWAps). The Fund has signed the International Health Partnership (IHP+) and participates in MDG Pooled Fund enhancing aid effectiveness and raising the visibility of reproductive health in policy dialogue, planning and monitoring, and leveraging a larger amount of resources towards ICPD implementation.

  • Support on evidence-based programming:

UNFPA has supported the National Baseline assessment on EmONC - a nationwide cross-sectional census of health facilities in both the public and private sectors. The survey has informed HSDP IV; provided evidence for guiding policy and planning to strengthen the health system; and provided baseline figures for tracking progress and monitoring national plans of action in the pursuit of achieving MDGs 4 and 5.