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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Initiative Launched to Advance Maternal Health

EngenderHealth announced today that it has received a three-year, $11 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to coordinate the Maternal Health Task Force Project, which will contribute to shaping collective efforts to improve maternal health worldwide. The Task Force will serve as a catalyst to address one of the most neglected areas in global health.

Maternal morbidity and mortality rates remain unacceptably high across the developing world. Every minute, a woman dies from complications related to childbirth or pregnancy. While most maternal deaths are preventable, poor health services and scarce resources limit women’s access to life-saving, high-quality care. Although there have been some notable advances, efforts to adequately address maternal health remain fragmented, and the political will remains insufficient to effectively tackle the issues.

Recognizing that real progress will require better coordination and increased global attention, EngenderHealth will bring together existing maternal health networks and engage new organizations to facilitate global coordination of maternal health programs. The Task Force will not duplicate or replace existing projects; rather, it will play a complementary role by convening stakeholders and creating an inclusive setting to engage in dialogue, build consensus, and share information.

The Task Force will provide a new forum dedicated specifically to maternal health, while reaching out to leaders from allied fields – including neonatal and child health, reproductive health, human rights, and HIV/AIDS – to devise innovative solutions to maternal morbidity and mortality. As a key component of the initiative, partners in developing countries will play a central role in setting the agenda. The Task Force will work very closely with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and other critical partners in this field.

The Task Force will harness new opportunities for collaboration and coordination and ensure that efforts pay off for women, families, and communities around the world.

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