Over the past decade, the field of child health has advanced faster and farther than most people thought possible however, these interventions are not reaching the most vulnerable women and infants.
Many of the life-saving innovations and practices highlighted below can be delivered by midwives and birth attendants within communities . These are mobile, low-cost and highly effective interventions. They include:
A bundle of interventions that can reduce postpartum hemorrhage, the No. 1 cause of maternal death, by 60% for less than $1 per package.
Bifidobacteria (B. Infantis), a new probiotic supplement that, when given to an infant alongside breastmilk, combats malnutrition—one of the leading causes of newborn deaths.
Multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) that boost survival rates for babies by helping replete nutrient stores in pregnant women and ensuring those vital nutrients are transferred to the baby.
A new one-time infusion of IV iron for women that replenishes iron reserves during pregnancy, protecting against and treating anemia, a condition that is both a cause and effect of postpartum hemorrhage and affects almost 37% of pregnant women.
Antenatal corticosteroids (ACS), which are given to women who will give birth prematurely to accelerate fetal lung growth, providing several weeks of maturation in just a few days.
Azithromycin, which reduces maternal infections during pregnancy and prevents infections from spiraling into sepsis—the cause of 23% of maternal deaths in the United States—and reduces mortality when given to infants in high-mortality settings.
An AI-enabled portable ultrasound that empowers nurses and midwives to monitor high-risk pregnancies in low-resource settings to ensure that risks are diagnosed and addressed early.
Of course, these interventions are not silver bullets— countries need to keep recruiting, training, and fairly compensating health care workers, especially midwives, and building more innovative, responsive and resilient health care systems. But together, they can save the lives of thousands of women and their children every year.
In the words of Melinda French Gates:
Improving maternal health also means improving infant health and survival. It means stronger families, more vibrant communities, and more prosperous societies. We have seen over and over again that when countries actually prioritize and invest in women’s health, they unleash a powerful engine for progress that can reduce poverty, advance gender equality, and build resilient economies.