Strengthening accountability to end preventable maternal deaths

This article by Matthews Matthai and colleagues in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetric’s October supplement World Report on Women’s Health 2015 describes the MDSR system, explaining its role as a mechanism for strengthening accountability and ending preventable maternal deaths.  The article also provides updates from around the world on how far the system is being implemented using findings from the WHO Global Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH) policy survey 2013-2014. This information has since been updated with findings from the MDSR implementation monitoring survey (April-Sept 2015) presented in the WHO’s latest online report on the status of MDSR implementation globally.

The article highlights that around the world countries are adopting MDSR into policy. However, there is a gap between policy development and placing it into practice:

  • Findings from the MNCAH policy survey found that three-quarters of high-priority countries surveyed had a policy stating that all maternal deaths must be reviewed and yet less than a third had a national MDR committee that meets on a quarterly basis.
  • More recent findings from the MDSR implementation monitoring survey has found that 90 per cent of countries surveyed had a policy stating that all maternal deaths must be reviewed and yet 42 per cent had a national MDR committee that meets at least biannually.

The authors conclude that training more health workers, monitoring and evaluation, and building partnerships with technical experts are recommended to support greater up-take of MDSR.