UCL News


Study indicates international child and maternal health priorities wrong

26 April 2007

A recent study by academics at the UCL Centre for International Health & Development and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, looking at how to improve maternal and child health in the developing world, was published in 'The Lancet' last week.

'Research Challenges to Improve Maternal and Child Survival' reports on a 'Delphi' study, where a wide range of academics and professionals with experience of maternal and child health in developing countries were asked their opinions on the most important research areas for enabling reductions in maternal and child mortality. Four main themes (child health, maternal health, health systems and community and development issues) were drawn from the first set of answers, after which respondents were asked to give their priorities in each of the four areas.

The results clearly identified neonatal health, skilled birth attendance, human resources, and participation and empowerment interventions as priority areas for future research. These findings show that the opinions of practitioners are in contrast to those of some funding bodies. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has focused on technological solutions to child and maternal health.

The Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which are dedicated to reducing maternal and child mortality, have shown disappointing progress. This study suggests workers on the front line believe that more money is needed for research programmes that emphasise the importance of measuring community effectiveness in maternal and child health schemes. The authors called for a 'funders' forum' to be held this year which would aim to urgently re-focus efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

'Research challenges to improve maternal and child survival' was written by Professor Anthony Costello (Centre for International Health and Development, UCL Institute of Child Health), Dr Veronique Filippi and Tamara Kubba (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), with Richard Horton, Editor of 'The Lancet'

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.