The Women and Health Initiative Partners with Institute for Clinical Effectiveness, University of Ghana, and Population Council to Test Maternal Health Indicators

The Women and Health Initiative (W&HI) is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (IECS), the University of Ghana School of Public Health, and the Population Council, India, to carry out research on innovative maternal health indicators in Argentina, India, and Ghana, respectively, as part of its Improving Maternal Health Measurement Capacity and Use (IMHM) project. Selected based on the strength of their proposals and teams, the three organizations have many decades of experience working in maternal health and measurement and a shared commitment to improving maternal health in their countries and on a global scale.

In partnership with the W&HI, the teams at IECS, the University of Ghana, and the Population Council will select and test nine of the 25 EPMM Phase II core indicators. Each of the research partners will use a mix of methods—outlined in a shared research protocol—to test and validate the indicators in their setting. The research partners’ country contexts represent a mix of regions (Asia, Africa, and the Latin America/Caribbean), national maternal mortality ratios, health systems, and available resources. As Dr. Niranjan Saggurti of the Population Council points out, this research “comes at a time when there is less experience tracking [the social determinants of health] at a national level in many countries, including India,” making it an important contribution globally.

While the IMHM project’s primary goal is to further develop these indicators for the benefit of all countries, the research partners are quick to note the additional benefits of their participation in the project for their own countries. For example, Dr. Richard Adanu of the University of Ghana explains, “Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio has remained high despite numerous efforts during both MDG and SDG eras that have been targeted at decreasing [it]. As a training institution mandated to train health staff for Ghana Health Service, being a part of the IMHM project brings on a new dimension of knowledge that can be shared with the health service staff. Engagement in the IMHM project is expected to raise awareness on the new dimensions of maternal health where much work has not been done in Ghana.” Dr. Eduardo Bergel, from IECS, notes that “the development of a set of new, validated indicators is perceived as a high priority in Argentina and will contribute to improving both the quality of information systems and the decisions of policy makers.”

By working closely together and regularly sharing information and lessons learned, the research partners will benefit from each other’s experience and insights. For example, both Argentina and India are large countries with a great deal of variability in resources and outcomes from one region to the next. This in-country variability is a challenge both the IECS and Population Council teams expect to encounter. For Dr. Saggurti, “the diversity in availability and robustness of data on indicators will make this kind of research challenging in India,” while for Dr. Bergel, the autonomy of the different provinces in Argentina could influence how different indicators are currently collected. Ideally, the IECS and Population Council teams will be able to share their experiences overcoming this challenge to support one another’s work.

The W&HI is delighted to launch its partnership with these organizations. They provide a wealth of research expertise and a shared commitment to improving maternal health measurement and quality of care for all women. Stay tuned for upcoming, in-depth features on each of our partners as research gets underway.