Maternal and Newborn Health Thematic Fund

The Maternal and Newborn Health Thematic Fund (MHTF) is UNFPA’s flagship programme for improving maternal and newborn health and well-being. Launched in 2008 to boost global funding and attention to maternal health, the MHTF is now entering its third phase, from 2018 to 2022, after having completed Phase I (2008-2013) and Phase II (2014-2017).

UNFPA estimates that through 2017 the MHTF contributed to averting an estimated 119,127 maternal deaths through strategic interventions in 39 countries with some of the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the world.

Accelerating progress for mothers and newborns

The Thematic Fund aims to spur progress on Sustainable Development Goal 3, which calls for efforts to promote healthy lives and well-being.

The Fund is supported by donors committed to making childbirth safer for all women, girls and newborns by bolstering midwifery and strengthening health systems overall, especially in their ability to deliver life-saving emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) to those who face the greatest risks in giving birth.

These efforts encompass the Midwifery Programme, the Campaign to End Fistula, EmONC development, as well as maternal and perinatal death surveillance and response. 

Getting results

The MHTF promotes evidence-based interventions, policies and technical guidance to improve maternal and newborn health in 32 countries with high maternal and neonatal mortality rates during its third phase (2018-2022).

One key focus has been the training of thousands of midwives each year who, in turn, can care for millions of women annually. As of 2017, 85,000 midwives were trained and over 550 midwifery schools and training institutions were strengthened. The Fund also contributed to over 95,000 obstetric fistula repairs. 

Building on evidence, monitoring progress

The MHTF is providing a solid evidence base for further improvements in women’s health. Since 2008, the Fund has directly supported 39 countries in completing EmONC needs assessments, with an additional 11 countries having benefited from the expertise disseminated by the programme.

In its second phase of operation (2014-2017), the MHTF introduced a consolidated and detailed results framework. It charts progress by country across dozens of indicators – from access to skilled birth personnel and emergency care to government expenditures for maternal and newborn health.

In its third phase of operation (2018-2022), the MHTF is broadening its scope to incorporate additional activities on obstetric morbidities, post-abortion care, and cervical cancer. In this phase, the MHTF will focus further on access to health care from a human rights perspective, quality of care, accountability mechanisms, and equity in access to reproductive health care, to ensure that no one is left behind.

Partners and donors

UNFPA expresses its gratitude in particular to the governments of Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden, for their support. We also thank key supporters of maternal and newborn health including the governments of France, Norway, Austria, Iceland, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Among our private sector and civil society partners, we continue to thank Friends of UNFPA, GE Health, Johnson & Johnson, the Laerdal Foundation and the UNFCU Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center and Zonta International for their generous support.

Our sincere thanks also go to our UN colleagues in the H6 joint programme, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Significant contributions come from our programme partners, which include the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), AMREF Health Africa, the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons, Columbia University’s Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program, Johns Hopkins University, Jhpiego, Women Deliver, the University of Geneva, and national and regional partners to the Campaign to End Fistula.

Updated 13 February 2019

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