How USAID helps mothers around the world

For women around the world, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum recovery can be life-threatening.

To mitigate these risks to mothers, the U.S. Agency for International Development will increase funding for maternal and child health care in high-risk areas of selected countries through its MOMENTUM initiative.

“In the past 10 years alone, USAID has helped save the lives of an estimated 9.3 million children and 340,000 women,” said Irene Koek, an administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health.

But despite a general improvement in the health of women and children around the world, there is still an “unfinished agenda to improve maternal, newborn and child health” in certain regions, she said.

Man sitting on bed next to woman sitting up in bed, with both holding new baby lying between them (USAID)
A new family in the maternity ward of a hospital in Yamuna Vihar, India, in 2015 (USAID)

MOMENTUM — or Moving Integrated, Quality Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services to Scale — is a suite of projects to provide quality health services to women and children who live in communities both large and small. By helping countries develop evidence-based health care systems that target the needs of each community, the project seeks to reduce maternal and child deaths.

South Sudan, for example, has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, a large portion of maternal deaths are from preventable complications, such as severe bleeding, high blood pressure during pregnancy, infections and complications from delivery.

MOMENTUM will help South Sudan and other countries expand access to voluntary family planning, as well as maternal, newborn and child health care services. This includes promoting facility-based births and ensuring skilled health care before, during and after delivery, so that health providers are better able to identify complications early and provide support.

“Through MOMENTUM, USAID will meet countries where they are on their development journey and provide the support needed to progress towards self-reliance for health,” Koek said.

The first two suites of project funding of $130 million have been announced and are underway. The third is expected to be announced later in 2020.

The MOMENTUM funding will also support follow-up monitoring and evaluation of the projects to ensure they’re helping each community.