UNFPA launched the Maternal Health Thematic Fund to jump-start safe motherhood programmes in some of the world's least developed countries. It was one response to stalled progress in countries where women were dying at a rate of more than 300 per 100,000 live births. These high rates of death and disability were occurring despite the fact that improving maternal health
was one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2000.
Accelerating progress for mothers
The thematic fund aims to spur progress on MDG 5. It is supported by donors committed to making childbirth safer for all women and girls by bolstering midwifery and strengthening health systems overall, especially in their ability to deliver life-saving emergency obstetric and newborn care to those who faces the greatest risks in giving birth. It encompasses the Midwifery Programme and the Campaign to End Fistula.
Since it was set up in 2008, the Maternal Health Thematic Fund has invested more than $100 million in maternal health programmes across 49 countries. A key focus has been training thousands of midwives each year who, in turn, can care for millions of women annually. About 47,000 women with obstetric fistula have been treated, and nearly 9,000 of these women and girls have been helped to return to productive lives in their communities.
As part of its strategy to reach the most vulnerable, the fund is reaching out to make sure that first-time and adolescent mothers get the quality care they need.
Building on evidence, monitoring progress
The Maternal Health Thematic Fund is also helping build a solid base of evidence from which to work strategically. For example, the thematic fund has conducted assessments of emergency obstetric and newborn care in 34 countries. This helped 19 countries develop district-by-district plans to scale up emergency obstetric care delivery. And the fund is helping countries institute systematic reporting and monitoring, so that every maternal death is counted and contributes to a better understanding of how and where health systems are failing.
In its the second phase of operation (2014-2017), the Maternal Health Thematic Fund introduced a consolidated and detailed results framework. It charts progress by country across dozens of indicators—from access to skilled birth attendance and emergency care to government expenditures for maternal and newborn health.
Partners and donors
UNFPA wishes to acknowledge its partnerships with national governments and donors, and with other UN agencies, in advancing the UN Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. As of November, 2014, these included:
- Governments: Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Spain (Catalonia), Sweden and the United Kingdom.
- Civil society and private sector: Friends of UNFPA, Johnson & Johnson, Laerdal Foundation, Virgin Unite, Zonta International and the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, for their generous support.
- Development partners: International Confederation of Midwives, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Columbia University’s Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program, Johns Hopkins University, Jhpiego, the Guttmacher Institute, the University of Aberdeen,the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Women Deliver, EngenderHealth, Family Care International.