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How A Checklist Can Help Address Causes of Mother, Infant Death in Childbirth

After years of testing in dozens of countries around the world, the Safe Childbirth Checklist was recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Ariadne Labs, a joint center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Scientists at Ariadne Labs helped develop and adapt the checklist and, with Population Services International, are leading the largest randomized controlled trial – called the BetterBirth Program –to test its effectiveness at lowering maternal and neonatal deaths. The BetterBirth Program is implementing the checklist with peer-to-peer coaching and data feedback in more than 100,000 live births across Uttar Pradesh, India.

In this Q&A,  Dr. Katherine Semrau, a Brigham epidemiologist in the Division of Global Health Equity and the Director of the Ariadne Labs BetterBirth Program, tells us more about the Safe Childbirth Checklist.

Katherine Semrau, PhD, MPH
Katherine Semrau, PhD, MPH

How are we doing, globally speaking, when it comes to maternal and neonatal care in childbirth?

Since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, we have made great strides globally in reducing maternal mortality by 43 percent. Unfortunately, reductions in newborn mortality have been marginal; 45 percent of all child mortality occurs in the first 28 days of life. Even with these successes, 303,000 women and 2.9 million newborns die each year. We can do better.

Much of the focus on reducing maternal and newborn mortality has been on improving access to facility-based delivery with a skilled birth attendant in low- and middle-income countries. This approach has improved access to care—but that alone has not solved the problem. Continue reading “How A Checklist Can Help Address Causes of Mother, Infant Death in Childbirth”