Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference

Last week, Innovating Education in Reproductive Health attended the first Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference in Mexico City. The meeting celebrated the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and outlined current efforts to address maternal and newborn mortality worldwide. Leaders in the field, including Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Hans Gosling (co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation) came together for the first major global meeting since the UN General Assembly agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals last month in New York.

The Innovating Education in Reproductive Health team had the opportunity to present at two sessions during the conference. The first was a papaya workshop skills demonstration where we highlighted the simplicity of the papaya workshop to teach crucial lifesaving clinical procedures such as first-trimester abortion, post-abortion care, and early pregnancy loss management. We also participated in the marketplace of ideas where we showcased our digital and hands-on tools for teaching family planning and maternal health.

Researchers, advocates, and healthcare providers presented panel sessions that discussed initiatives to address some of the most pressing needs in maternal and newborn health highlighting: the use of misoprostol to improve maternal outcomes, the impact of family planning on maternal and newborn health, ways to strengthen midwifery and midwifery education, and innovative approaches to improved health systems.

A panel titled “Improving Access and Quality of Safe Abortion Services: Global Lessons and Questions” outlined current trends in abortion among women worldwide. Consistent themes are threaded across a range of geographic settings notably: barriers to timely abortion care such as costs, access to trained providers, and stigma associated with abortion/women who have. Presenters identified outpatient manual vacuum aspiration and self-induction (through widely accessible misoprostol) as the key areas for future work.

We are so pleased at the opportunity to present our work as part of the community of practitioners dedicated to eradicating maternal and newborn mortality. This conference reminded us that while evidence-based clinical excellence is crucial to addressing the health needs of women worldwide, without patient-centered respectful care we will not be able to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all people regardless of gender.

The Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference was convened by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), and Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program.