Partner Perspectives

11 June 2007
Author: UNFPA
Barny Trevelyan-Johnson/PMNCH

Children are dependent, to a large extent, on the health and well-being of their mothers. This recognition led, in 2005, to the merging of three separate global partnerships, which had earlier focused on child survival, safe motherhood and newborn health.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) consists of more than 120 members, including government representatives, UN agencies, NGOs, health professionals, donors, foundations and academic and research institutions. Together, the partnership works towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality by two thirds and maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015.

In April 2007  , some 300 delegates gathered in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and called for urgent action to prevent the needless deaths of mothers and children in poor countries around the world. Here are some of the perspectives the partners from various backgrounds bring to the issue:

Ahmed Malah
Y-PEER focal point for Egypt

Early pregnancy and early marriage are among the main causes of maternal deaths. As peer educators, we talk to young girls from 15-19 years old to educate them about early marriage, HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health. However, we don’t yet target 15-19 years olds who are already married. They are a vulnerable, forgotten sector.

Anne Tinker
Director, Saving Newborn Lives Initiative
Save the Children

The Partnership provides an opportunity to take a new approach to reducing mother, newborn and child mortality by addressing the continuum of care. This involves seeing health from pregnancy through childbirth and into early childhood, reaching mothers and families from community to health facility level. What’s new is the recognition that the newborn is a critical link between maternal and child health. A mother’s health is the most important determinant of newborn outcome. And a healthy newborn will become a healthy child and adult.

Arletty Pinel
Chief, Reproductive Health Branch, UNFPA
Interim Chair, Advocacy Working Group for the Partnership

Maternal deaths are not normal events. Women die because something goes wrong and women don’t have access to life saving measures. They die, because they are poor. We know what needs to be done to stop maternal deaths, to stop newborn deaths. We have an ethical and moral responsibility as the Partnership to address these issues and provide a platform to raise the profile of the problem. One woman dies every minute from giving birth around the world. If one woman’s death a minute is not enough for urgent action, I don’t know what is.

Fran McConville
Health Adviser,
Department for International Development (DFID)

Addressing maternal health requires strengthening the whole health system, including recruitment and deployment and retention of health workers, such as skilled birth attendants. The priority is to tackle low levels of financing to the whole health sector in a way that benefits all. Since the establishment of the Partnership, there have been significant improvements in the coordination and relations between stakeholders in maternal, newborn and child health.

Honourable Ambassador, Dr. Gertrude Mongella
President, African Union Parliament

Starting from 2004, a small number of African countries have very interestingly begun to report significant child mortality reduction in the Demographic Health Surveys -- and Tanzania heads the list. Other countries are Eritrea, Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique. While this is very welcome news, we must address the issue cautiously. It is important to more closely examine the mortality reduction data and determine the factors that have contributed to this reduction so that we may have clear guidance on policies, strategies and interventions that can be strengthened for sustained impact and which can be replicated elsewhere in Africa and the world. Having quality data is a basic and important step towards addressing the MDGs, and using data to inform action is another critical step. Taking action is the most important step of all.

Luc De Bernis
Senior Maternal and Newborn Health Advisor
Africa Division, UNFPA

Maternal mortality programmes in Africa are suffering from piecemeal approaches and a lack of coordination between different agencies and partners. A lack of coordination leads to poor technical assistance, misuse of funds and a burden put on countries’ shoulders, because each organization is using different administrative procedures. Maternal health is a complex issue that requires a range of competencies and not any one partner is able to address that on its own. We need a wide range of people. . . The partnership will help us advocate and harmonize messages so that all partners are working in the same direction.

Kul C. Gautam
Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF
Chairman, Interim Steering Committee for the Partnership

MDGs 4 and 5 - reducing infant, child and maternal mortality – represent the very essence of human life. If you don’t survive, nothing else counts. Ensuring the survival of mothers, newborns and children is therefore our first duty above anything else. Yet, in this world of growing wealth and extraordinary scientific advances, every minute a mother dies of pregnancy related complications, and every minute 20 children die of readily preventable causes. This carnage of 11 million women and children dying prematurely every year is an unconscionable blemish on human civilization in the 21st century. . . The $9 billion per year of additional investment that we need to achieve MDGs 4 and 5, to save the lives of 11 million women and children and to improve the health and well-being of hundreds of millions – is among the best bargains in human development. Yes, $9 billion a year is a lot of money. But in a $35 trillion world economy, where someone becomes a new billionaire every two weeks, where billions of dollars are spent every day for profligate military expenditure and superficial luxuries, surely the world can afford $9 billion for saving the lives and improving the health of the world’s most vulnerable citizens. 

-- Angela Walker


Tanzania, United Republic of
Population : 59.7 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 26%
Girls 27%