Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

Mother with baby

In the last 20 years, great strides have been made in reducing child and maternal deaths.  However, child and maternal deaths still remain unacceptably high. In 2013, 6.3 million children died before their fifth birthday, and even now some 800 women and girls die each day in the process of giving life, largely from preventable causes. Strengthening essential system functions to reliably deliver high quality, life-saving interventions for leading causes of maternal, newborn, and child mortality is a major part of USAID’s Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths (EPCMD) strategy. The USAID ASSIST Project supports the global EPCMD agenda by:

  • Testing and implementing innovative, cutting-edge quality improvement and service delivery approaches in maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), such as collaborative improvement, process redesign, and integrating routine and complications care across system levels
  • Developing, testing, and disseminating technical frameworks, approaches, and tools that can increase the efficiency, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of health system strengthening and quality improvement initiatives in support of the USAID EPCMD strategy, including strategies to integrate gender considerations in care delivery
  • Building government and implementing partner capacity to apply improvement methods across health system levels (community, clinic, hospital, district, regional, central) to improve, scale up, and sustain high-impact, low-cost, people-centered MNCH and family planning (FP) services for leading causes of maternal newborn and child morbidity and mortality in USAID priority countries
  • Strengthening frontline health worker and manager skills, motivation, and performance through integrated clinical and quality improvement (QI) capacity building and through engagement of health workers in making improvements in their local health care systems and processes
  • Supporting the development and testing of MNCH quality of care indicators, strengthening routine health information systems to enable regular tracking of quality measures at service delivery level, and promoting accountability at global, national, and sub-national levels

Drawing on extensive experience support the planning, implementation and evaluation of MNCH improvement programs in different countries and regions, USAID ASSIST also contributes to global learning about gaps in care processes and how to best support health system functions to deliver high-impact, cost-effective MNCH services to decrease preventable maternal and child deaths.

A multi-faceted regional learning platform to support maternal, newborn and child health improvement efforts in the WHO South-East Asia Region

Sonali Vaid

Quality Improvement Consultant, WHO Collaborating Centre for Newborn Care at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi

By: Dr. Sonali Vaid, Dr. Rajesh Mehta, Dr. Ashok Deorari, and Dr. K. Aparna Sharma


A mother sits with her child in Madhya Pradesh, India. Photo credit: Amit Reddy

Our “Best 9” stories in 2017

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Looking back, 2017 was a great year for us at ASSIST. In 2017, we were featured in USAID’s Exposure; we collaborated with a number of partners to publish ICHC Blog Series, which was cross-posted on The Huffington Post; and we ran a blog series in honor of Health Worker Week. After our resources page, our blog was the most visited page on our website. In case you missed some of these highlights, we’ve put together our “Best 9” stories. These posts illustrate the stories behind the great work employed by our country teams, partners, and individuals. Let us know which story you loved the most!

Sparking a national movement to improve the quality of care in health care facilities

Sonali Vaid

Quality Improvement Consultant, WHO Collaborating Centre for Newborn Care at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi


(Local quality improvement champions reflect on ways to continue supporting and spreading the use of improvement methods to strengthen health systems in India. Photo credit: Alison Lucas, ASSIST/URC.)

What I’ve Learned: Reflections on a Quality Improvement Journey

Parika Pahwa

Quality Improvement Advisor, India, USAID ASSIST/URC


(Dr. Pahwa meets with the QI team at Ganesh Das Hospital in Shillong, Meghalaya. Photo credit: Ganesh Das Hospital staff.)

World Preeclampsia Day: Using a collaborative learning approach to improve early detection and management of preeclampsia in Jinja District, Uganda

Anjali Chowfla

Improvement Advisor, USAID ASSIST Project

(A quality improvement team in Jinja District, Uganda reviews changes tested to increase early detection of preeclampsia. Photo credit: Connie Namajji, URC)

What we learned while improving care for 180,000 babies annually in India

Nigel Livesley

Regional Director for South Asia, USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Health Systems (ASSIST) Project, University Research Co., LLC (URC)

A clear guide to improving care of mothers and babies in low-resource settings

By: Tamar Chitashvili, Silvia Holschneider, Jorge Hermida, and Nigel Livesley 

There is growing recognition that clinical training and health infrastructure — while essential—are insufficient for improving and sustaining life-saving maternal and newborn health care services in low-resource settings. Instead, broader systems strengthening and continuous quality improvement efforts at the service delivery level are needed to continuously assess gaps in processes and content of care and to plan, test, implement, regularly monitor, refine and institute changes to deliver services correctly and consistently. To respond to this need and help frontline care providers in their continuous quality improvement journey, “Improving Care for Mothers and Babies: A Guide for Improvement Teams” was recently developed through collaborative efforts of the Survive & Thrive Global Development Alliance (S&T GDA).

Scaling up a quality improvement initiative under the Government of India’s RMNCH+A program: Lessons from Chamba District

Praveen Sharma

Head of Programs, India, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

From December 2013, ASSIST’s India team started providing support for quality improvement (QI) initiatives to improve services at health facilities in Chamba District in Himachal Pradesh State. Within a few months, the district government saw good, sustained results from QI initiatives for the Government of India’s RMNCH+A program and with ASSIST’s support, the district government has been very active at all levels (facility, district, state) in scaling up QI.

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