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Using science to save lives of mothers and children in Africa
Date:11/9/2009

facilities and a 20 percent increase in selected interventions provided outside of facilities. The analysis showed that such increases in coverage in the nine example countries would save the lives of 770,000 women, newborns, and children each year.

Because the context of health systems varies among countries, interventions have different effects. The report authors therefore showed how many lives could be saved by selected priority interventions in different health system contexts. For example, in settings with few births in facilities, increasing family planning is feasible, saves many lives, and is relatively low cost. The estimated cost of these priority interventions is "extremely affordable" on a per capita basis, the report notes. In fact, the average cost for increasing these selected high-impact interventions to achievable levels in the nine example countries within two years is less than $2 per capita.

Based on the evidence, priorities for maternal, newborn, and child health in sub-Saharan Africa include making childbirth safe, giving newborn babies a healthy start, and preventing and managing infections in newborns and young children, the report says. The evidence also shows that high-impact interventions are most effective and efficient when integrated into existing health delivery systems, yet more research is needed on how to deliver care closer to home and reach populations in remote areas. More study is needed on the use of alternative cadres for certain tasks as well.

The report was authored by representatives of the seven African science academies and a team they assembled of more than 60 experts. One of the report's coordinating authors, Joy Lawn, director of global evidence and policy at Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children in Cape Town, South Africa, believes that the report will serve as a call to action. "Accelerated action now based on data and science has the potential to saves millions of lives every
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Contact: William Kearney
wkearney@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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