Countdown to 2015 becomes Countdown to 2030

By Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog. 

CountdownCountdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival (“Countdown”) was established in 2005 in response to The Lancet Child Survival Series with the goal of monitoring countries’ progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) by 2015. Countdown is led by a team of multi-disciplinary leaders in the maternal and child health field, including researchers, governments, international agencies, professional organizations and other stakeholders. Now that the world has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Countdown has extended its work to monitor progress toward achieving SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages) by 2030.

Countdown has focused primarily on measuring the coverage for evidence-based interventions across the continuum of care, from preconception to postnatal care. Coverage varies dramatically depending on the intervention. For example, as of 2014, 90% of women around the world attend at least one antenatal care visit, but only 25% of women in malaria endemic countries receive anti-malarial treatment during pregnancy. This discrepancy illustrates that contact with the health care system is not sufficient for improving maternal and child health; women and children must receive quality care once they reach health facilities. Additionally, coverage depends highly on social determinants including wealth, sex and place of residence, resulting in wide inequalities across numerous coverage indicators. Intervention design and implementation must take into account quality of care and the social determinants of health.

Lessons learned from Countdown to 2015

A series of papers that was recently published in BMC Public Health summarizes the results of Countdown’s work over the past decade, particularly focused on lessons learned from in-depth country case studies. Those lessons include the importance of continuing to:

  • Evaluate impact using a common framework
  • Develop quantitative assessments of coverage and equity
  • Evaluate inputs and processes such as health policy and systems
  • Focus on the continuum of care
  • Study the particular economic, political and social factors producing diverse contexts
  • Strengthen health systems and data capacity
  • Prioritize accountability

Based on lessons learned from Countdown to 2015, Countdown to 2030 will focus on the social determinants of health, equity, national and regional accountability, multi-stakeholder collaboration, data capacity and disaggregation and quality of care.

Learn more about Countdown to 2030

Read the full Countdown to 2015 final report

Read an interview with Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, co-chair of Countdown to 2015.

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