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Getting off to the right start is key to living a long and healthy life. That’s as true in Manchester as it is in Mumbai or Mbale. But the challenges that mothers, babies and children face differ enormously across the globe. That’s why maternal and child health is such an important focus for health initiatives in low-resource settings.
The world has made significant progress in the past three decades: efforts under the Millennium Development Goals (1990-2015) reduced avoidable deaths among mothers and children under 5 by more than half in the world’s most resource-poor countries. As a result, the lives of almost 20 million mothers and over 10 million children were saved. Despite these successes, we still have a long way to go.
The new United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) continue to recognise the vital importance of maternal and child health with 13 separate targets addressing the needs of mothers, infants and children. The new targets are focussed on more than life and death – although these are critical areas for improvement.
The SDGs look holistically at what needs to happen by 2030 for mothers and children everywhere to live healthily and well. This includes ending malnutrition and ensuring access to childhood vaccinations and adequate sanitation – as well as ending harmful practices like child marriage, exploitation and discrimination against women and girls.
We recognise how essential progress on these targets is to achieving equitable health for all. For 15 years, the BMA Humanitarian Fund has supported NHS staff to deliver innovative projects that make a sustainable impact on the health of people in low-income countries. 86 of our grants – nearly 40% of projects we’ve funded – have been used to improve maternal and child health across 32 countries worldwide.
From managing obstetric emergencies and neonatal resuscitation to nutrition support and correctional surgery, we know that UK healthcare staff will continue to make a massive contribution to the health of future generations worldwide. Could your project be next?