Global Maternal Health Conference in Arusha

Debate: Continuum of Care

Session title:

Has the ascendance of the RMNCH continuum of care framework helped or hindered the cause of maternal health?

Type of session

Moderated panel discussion


Over the past 5-7 years, the “reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health” (RMNCH) continuum of care has gained considerable acceptance as the standard paradigm for advocacy, policy, and service delivery, especially as reflected in the establishment of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in 2005, the creation of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in 2010, and other global and national initiatives.

This broader framing of maternal health is seen as having helped to generate high-level political support and visibility, most notably through the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child effort, which has in turn helped to bring in new constituencies (such as the private sector), increased funding, and new energy to the overall goal of reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality. However, the RMNCH paradigm is also seen as having diluted the focus of advocacy, funding, and service delivery strategies specifically for maternal health; in comparison with the politically uncontroversial nature of newborn and child health, and the relatively straightforward, high-impact and low-cost interventions for reducing newborn and child mortality, maternal health strategies (or some components) are still viewed as complex to address, high-cost, and difficult to implement.

Panelists from both the “helped” and “hindered” sides will discuss these issues from both global and country-level perspectives, drawing on qualitative research on political commitment to maternal health, analyses of ODA for maternal health, and a review of commitments to maternal health made in the context of the Muskoka Initiative and Every Woman Every Child.

  • Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet
  • Prof. Wendy Graham, University of Aberdeen
  • Prof. Friday Okonofua, University of Benin, Nigeria
  • Dr. Marleen Temmerman, Director, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization
  • Ann Starrs, President, Family Care International (moderator)