Sexual and reproductive health

A systematic review of the Robson Classification for Caesarean Section: What works, doesn’t work and how to improve it

JUNE 2014 - Caesarean section rates continue to increase worldwide, particularly in middle- and high-income countries without evidence indicating substantial maternal and perinatal benefits from the increase and some studies showing negative consequences for maternal and neonatal health. The lack of a standardized internationally-accepted classification system to monitor and compare CS rates in a consistent and action oriented manner is one of the factors that has hindered a better understanding of this trend.

Obstetric fistula: Time to end the tragedy

An Ethiopian woman recovers from life-changing fistula surgery at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Lucy Perry/Hamlin Fistula Relief & Aid Fund Australia
An Ethiopian woman recovers from life-changing fistula surgery, Ethiopia

23 May: International Day to End Obstetric Fistula - Obstetric fistula is the result of prolonged, obstructed labour. It leaves women incontinent, ashamed and often isolated from their communities. A debilitating condition affecting approximately 2 million girls across Africa and Asia. There are numerous challenges associated with providing fistula repair services in developing countries, including a dearth of available and motivated surgeons with specialized skills, operating rooms, equipment and funding from local or international donors to support both surgeries and post-operative care. Finding ways of providing services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner is paramount.

New Maternal Mortality Estimates report steady progress, more work needed

6 MAY 2014 - New estimates for maternal mortality analysed by a United Nations Interagency group led by WHO show a 45% reduction in maternal deaths, from 523 000 in 1990 to an estimated 289 000 in 2013. Additionally, a new WHO study published in The Lancet Global Health, looks at why these women are dying. More than 1 in 4 maternal deaths are caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, malaria and obesity, which can all be aggravated by pregnancy. This is similar to the proportion of deaths from severe bleeding—previously cited as the main cause of maternal deaths.

New findings from the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health

Image of a newborn baby

The Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health (WHOMCS) is the largest study to date assessing the management of severe maternal complications and the prevalence of maternal near miss. New analyses of the study data set covering a wide range of issues, including the major causes of maternal mortality and severe morbidity and social determinants of health, are presented in this special supplement to BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is freely available from the link below.

Highlights on maternal and perinatal health

Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality

The Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality Working Group invites comments on the draft paper "Strategies toward ending preventable maternal mortality". Comments may be sent to and will be accepted until 31 July 2014.

Assisted vaginal delivery device winner in “Saving Lives at Birth” challenge

A mobile phone, checklist solution to empower women and save lives


Clinical guidance, evidence, monitoring and evaluation, policy issues.

Eliminating congenital syphilis

Approximately 50% of women with untreated syphilis will transmit the infection to their unborn child, resulting in profound adverse outcomes (i.e. stillbirth, neonatal death, prematurity, low birth weight, or congenitally infected infant), including an estimated 440 000 perinatal deaths each year.

Videos on newborn

These training videos have been provided by the Global Health Media Project and are based on standards of care described in: Care of the Newborn Reference Manual, Save the Children, 2004; Managing Newborn Problems, WHO, 2003; and Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses Chart Booklet, WHO, 2011.

Video: Ensuring access to quality care during pregnancy