Each year about 350,000 women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth complications. This number is in addition to the more than 7 million children who die before reaching the age of 5. These results were reported after a global study was completed comprised of three years of data collection. 

The data was collected by Essential Interventions. Essential Interventions is designed to report data to countries with low and middle income populations in order to plan out government resources to have the greatest impact on health improvements. 

 Study authors read through more than 50,000 medical documents. They were looking for successful interventions that significantly reduce the risk of maternal and child death. After reviewing the documents, a collection of 56 interventions were gathered. The World Health Organization (WHO), Aga Khan University and PMNCH (Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health) were involved with the study. 

Of the 56 interventions suggested by researchers, a few include:

  • Paying special attention to the treatment and control of iron deficiency during pregnancy – iron treatments. 
  • Focusing more on the treatment and prevention of post-birth hemorrhage
  • Providing heat or thermal interventions for newborn infants. 
  • Using antibiotics to treat infant and child pneumonia

Many of the 56 interventions included in the list are taken for granted in western countries, but the aim of researchers was not to provide a new list, but rather collect a long list of positive interventions that could easily be used to reduce maternal, infant and child death. 

Before the list was compiled, there were many rules of thought and many complicated lists of interventions causing some confusion and discourse in the medical community. Now, there are 56 interventions that all medical professional agree upon, but those 56 are just the start. The research team investigated a list of 142 interventions before narrowing down the list. That means there are numerous other interventions that could impact the health and life of pregnant women, infants and young children. 

PMNCH partners with the UN, health groups and research institutions, among many other entities. After the list was condensed to 56, PMNCH started the development of a slider for quick reference. The slider would include all 56 interventions in a compact format that any doctor could use to validate decisions about the best medical interventions to protect life. 

Source: Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. 19 December, 2011.