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Delivering Solutions: Advancing Dialogue To Improve Maternal Health

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Introduction:

Advancing Dialogue on Maternal Health series

The 2009–2010 Advancing Dialogue on Maternal Health series worked to address many critical and neglected maternal health topics. During this period, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Global Health Initiative (GHI) co-convened 10 public meetings and 2 private workshops with the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to identify challenges and discuss strategies for advancing the maternal health agenda.

By convening experts from the maternal health, health systems, donor, and policymaking communities, the 2009–2010 series helped reinvigorate the focus on maternal health in Washington, DC. In collaboration with the MHTF and UNFPA, GHI drew upon its maternal and reproductive health networks to identify neglected maternal health issues, and convened meetings to expand dialogue on specific topics. Over the 2010 series, international experts from South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the United Kingdom joined 900+ U.S. researchers, policymakers, donors, and program managers to share knowledge, showcase new research, and discuss strategies for increased coordination in the field.

To expand input from the field, these partners collaborated in 2011 with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Kenya to co-host a two-part dialogue series with local, regional, and national decision-makers on effective maternal health policies and programs. These in-country dialogue meetings created a platform for field workers, policymakers, program managers, media, and donors to share research, disseminate lessons learned, and address concerns related to policy, institutional, and organizational capacity building.

This brief captures, analyzes, and synthesizes the strategies and recommendations emerging from the dialogue series that took place with the global maternal health community in Washington, DC, USA, and also with the in-country partner APHRC headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The findings and recommendations are organized around three major themes for improving maternal health:

»» Social, cultural, and economic factors and gender inequity »» Health systems factors »» Research and data demands

The conclusion ties the many threads of the discussion together, and points toward next steps.