MNCH Innovations: Video Review

This new video from UNICEF starts with the story of an Indian woman who safely delivered a healthy baby in a clinic, under medical supervision, thanks to a partnership between UNICEF and her local government. Prior to their intervention, the majority of women in her district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh were delivering babies at home because health facilities were few and far away, and there was no transportation available.

Over five years, UNICEF worked with the Madhya Pradesh government to make major changes, including:

  • Upgrading health centers
  • Providing new equipment
  • Hiring new nurses
  • Improving hospitals with a newborn care units
  • Funding an ambulance service
  • Creating a call center to coordinate ambulance trips

Now, five years after UNICEF began their work, the woman’s district reports the lowest maternal mortality rate in the entire state. Every year, half a million women use the ambulance service to ensure safer deliveries, and 50,000 newborns are saved in the newborn care units. UNICEF’s work has been so successful that the Madhya Pradesh government is scaling up and replicating it elsewhere in the state and other Indian states are also interested in implementing the programs.

One of the newborns in the video had a lung problem and was also underweight because his mother had not been eating properly. The narrator mentioned that many babies in the unit were underweight. While the video focused on the help the new care unit was able to provide to these newborns, my thoughts went elsewhere. UNICEF’s work has made a big difference, but the small fact about the prevalence of underweight newborns reinforced the fact that there are many larger underlying factors and social determinants at play that will continue to challenge progress and positive changes in developing countries. UNICEF’s innovative programs were definitely successful in tackling the delivery and newborn care issues in the region, but the video also (unintentionally) illustrated the general complexity of global health and development challenges.

“Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.”
– Bill Gates

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