Maternal Health Task Force

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Launched in 2008 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) is a global project focused on improving maternal health through better coordination, communication, and facilitation between existing maternal health organizations, as well as with experts in related fields. The Task Force serves as a catalyst to address one of the most neglected areas in global health.

Maternal morbidity and mortality rates remain unacceptably high across the developing world. Every minute, a woman dies from complications related to childbirth or pregnancy. While most maternal deaths are preventable, poor health services and scarce resources limit women’s access to life-saving, high-quality care. Although there have been some notable advances, efforts to adequately address maternal health remain fragmented, and the political will remains insufficient to effectively tackle the issues.

Recognizing that real progress requires better coordination and increased global attention, the Maternal Health Task Force brings together existing maternal health networks and engages new organizations to facilitate global coordination of maternal health programs. The Task Force does not duplicate or replace existing projects, but plays a complementary role by convening stakeholders and creating an inclusive setting to engage in dialogue, build consensus, and share information.

The Task Force provides a new forum dedicated specifically to maternal health, while reaching out to leaders from allied fields—including neonatal and child health, reproductive health, human rights, and HIV/AIDS—to devise innovative solutions to maternal morbidity and mortality. As a key component of the initiative, partners in developing countries play a central role in setting the agenda. The Task Force works very closely with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and other critical partners in this field.

The MHTF will engage organizations, individuals, and other partners that work at both theglobal and country level. It will also reach out to organizations and individuals in allied fields, such as family planning, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, newborn and child health, education, human rights and others in order to both contribute to their work and learn from their expertise. The MHTF will coordinate a set of activities identified as priorities for the maternal health field, promote collaboration among its constituents, and catalyze action around three thematic areas:

  • Evidence
  • Programs
  • Policy

It will accomplish this through identifying knowledge gaps and filling them, sharing information, providing opportunities for interaction and consensus building, nurturing young champions, and compiling and disseminating a range of useful tools. Priority will be given to activities that contribute to the building of a stronger evidence base for maternal health, greater consensus in the field, new thinking and approaches that will move the field forward, and improvements in coordination and collaboration. It is expected that these activities will lead to improvements in policies, programs, and priorities at both the country and global levels, although it is acknowledged that there is often a large gap between the generation of new knowledge and its use in policies and programs. If this gap can be bridged, policies and programs will improve which, ultimately, will contribute to accelerated progress on maternal health.

The Task Force will use a dynamic Knowledge Management System (KMS) housed within its highly interactive website to fulfill its information-sharing mandate and to expand the maternal health dialogue. To register as a Task Force member, visit the MHTF at www.maternalhealthtaskforce.org

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