IMNHC Recap: Uniting for Integrated Maternal and Newborn Health

May 19, 2023 by PATH

PATH representatives from our Integrated Maternal and Child Health and Development, Medical Devices and Health Technologies, and Advocacy and Public Policies teams attended the International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC) in South Africa in May 2023. It was the first time in eight years that global advocates gathered for this conference. Here are our top three reflections:

Integration is key

Over the past decade, there have been no gains in reducing premature births. Since 2016, there has been a plateau in maternal mortality, while under-five mortality has seen greater decreases compared to newborn mortality. The strain of COVID-19 on health systems has deepened health inequities, leading to higher rates of maternal mortality, depression, and newborn deaths. To address these challenges, investing in integrated primary health care that aligns with national and global targets is crucial, including antenatal and postnatal care, high-quality childbirth care, and nutrition services.

At PATH, we believe that integrated, well-equipped, and resilient primary health care (PHC) systems serve as the expressway for achieving Universal Health Coverage. Within our PHC Program, the IMCHD team is one of the five multidisciplinary teams leading the way. By adopting a comprehensive health systems approach, IMCHD concentrates on enhancing and precisely targeting interventions related to maternal and newborn care, vital nutrition initiatives such as human milk banking, and early child development. Through these efforts, we strive to ensure the holistic well-being of individuals and communities.

Advancing towards equity post-COVID-19

This conference showcased greater regional and country representation on panels, side sessions, and the Technical Marketplace. While the presence of non-governmental organizations like PATH remained strong, there was a significant increase in participation from in-country researchers and implementers presenting findings from their respective nations. This shift reflects the transformative impact of the pandemic on our field.

Aligned with our 2025 Strategy, PATH places the needs of our local partners at the forefront. Our change strategies, including health equity, community priorities, respectful partnerships, and inclusive innovation, drive our commitment to collaborative efforts and support the transformation of the global public health sector.

Putting mothers at the center of care

During one plenary session, a mother shared their personal journey, recounting her experience of receiving inadequate care, resulting in the loss of their child. The deeply moving account underscored the critical need for compassionate and people-centered interventions in maternal and newborn health care. At PATH, we join forces with national and sub-national governments, collaborating to co-design interventions and fortify health systems. Our collective mission is to empower individuals and communities by providing a comprehensive range of services and resources conveniently accessible from a single, supportive hub.

As we approach the Sustainable Development Goals' end date, the IMNHC served as a crucial moment for global MNH targets. PATH remains committed to this mission and looks forward to working with partners in driving progress together. Explore more resources on PATH's maternal and newborn health innovations here.

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