Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Global Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health

The economic and social returns of investing in women’s and children’s health are set out today in a landmark article published in "The Lancet".

“Advancing social and economic development by investing in women’s and children’s health: a new global investment framework” draws on the work of the Study Group for the Global Investment Framework for Women's Children's Health, coordinated by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and the WHO.

A mother and her infant child.

The Investment Framework estimates that increasing health expenditure by just US$ 5 per person per year up to 2035 in 74 high-burden countries could yield up to 9 times that value in economic and social benefits. These returns include greater gross domestic product (GDP) growth through improved productivity, and prevention of the deaths of 147 million children, 32 million stillbirths, and 5 million women by 2035. These gains could be achieved by an additional investment of US$ 30 billion per year, equivalent to a 2% increase above current spending.

The Investment Framework enables a more targeted and strategic approach to supporting women’s and children’s health based on national needs and priorities by:

  • providing guidance on how to optimize resource allocation to maximize social and economic returns;
  • demonstrating the affordability and high rates of return of increased, targeted health investments;
  • sharpening country investment strategies to improve context-specific decision making over the next two decades.

The Investment Framework was developed by a group of partners, and coordinated by WHO, the Partnership for Maternal Newborn & Child Health and the University of Washington. It was developed at the request of the iERG, as one of the key pillars of the on-going accountability agenda for women’s and children’s health. The Investment Framework will be a key part of the analysis which will be launched in London on 3 December 2013 by the Commission of Investment in Health, to mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of “Investing in Health”, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report.

Key messages from the Investment Framework

  • Additional investments of US$ 5 per person per year in 74 countries, with 95% of the global maternal and child mortality burden, would yield high rates of return, producing up to nine times the economic and social benefit by 2035.
  • Continuing historical trends of coverage increases is not sufficient. Accelerated investments are needed to bring health benefits to the majority of women and children.
  • Compared with current trends, our accelerated investment scenario estimates that a total of 5 million maternal deaths, 147 million child deaths, and 32 million stillbirths can be prevented in 2013–35 in 74 high-burden countries.
  • Expanding access to contraception will be a particularly cost-effective investment potentially accounting for half of all the deaths prevented in the accelerated investment scenario.
  • More than a third of the additional costs required are health systems investments that are also required for services beyond those for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health. An ambitious scale-up would require an additional 675 000 nurses, doctors, and midwives in 2035, along with 544 000 community health workers.
  • The new global investment framework could serve as a guide to countries to optimise investments in women’s and children’s health within national health and development plans over the next two decades.