School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Theme 2: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

This group's work focuses on documenting evidence to address Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 which are aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. Of particular focus for this group is documenting and understanding the role of maternal, neonatal and reproductive health human resources at the community level and the implications these have on mortality rates. This work will be particularly useful for district managers, non-government organisations and donors in the Asia-Pacfic region.

See Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Publications




Current international literature indicates that there are now evidence based interventions to address and bring about significant reductions in both neonatal and maternal mortality to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. While there have been impressive gains in some countries in the region (such as is Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia) with achieving their MDG targets by 2015, there are also countries where maternal and neonatal mortality are indeed getting worse. It is apparent that there is a complex mix of factors which determine how mothers are cared for during pregnancy and the peri-natal period in the different countries in the region. Cultural beliefs and practices, families socio-economic circumstances, geographical isolation and access, status of women and beliefs and attitudes of their husbands and families are all now recognised as important determinants of maternal and neonatal outcomes in developing countries. This mix of factors and their individual contribution to achieving the MDGs is generally poorly understood.

In those countries where maternal and neonatal morality is not improving or is getting worse there is a lack of population coverage with efficacious, affordable interventions because of a lack of capacity in the health system to deliver those interventions. Added to this mix are the various levels of government-employed and private-sector providers as well as traditional birth attendants who attend mothers at the time of giving birth. It is poorly understood how this mix of providers interacts at the community level. There is a general lack of knowledge about community-based human resources in maternal, neonatal and reproductive health settings and the implications for infant and maternal mortality.

The maternal, newborn and child health group look to document and evaluate current human resource management practices and document any evidence of effectiveness especially in community-based settings of countries within the Asia-Pacific region. This research group works in collaboration with the Women’s and Children’s Health Knowledge Hub (COMPASS). The research produced by this group will be useful to reproductive health advisers (mostly rural health directors or program managers), Ministers of Health and agencies including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF Women and Child Health Programs, USAID, NZAID and AusAID.