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CHP Symposium on Maternal Health


10 March 2014


Think globally, act locally: International research lessons for South Africa on improving maternal health outcomes

South Africa is unlikely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for maternal health by 2015. The country has huge disparities in socio-economic conditions, which reflect large differences in maternal health status across population groups, and three-fold inequities between the poorest pregnant women and the wealthiest in some cases.

Enormous challenges around health system access, acceptability, and community interventions related to health promotion and social factors affecting health continue to burden the health system. Also, systematic channels to influence policy makers are lacking, and so the research which could influence maternal health outcomes has little impact on health policy and implementation.

In an effort to translate its scientific research for a broader audience of policy makers, implementers and the public, the Centre for Health Policy (CHP) in the Wits School of Public Health will host a symposium on “Global Insights on Health System and Community Interventions to improve Maternal Health – Lessons for South Africa”. The meeting will feature local and international experts from a range of organisations, government departments, and non-governmental organisations.

Presentations will cover the socio-economic vulnerability of pregnant women in South Africa, the interventions to counter the lack of male involvement in maternal health, and the option of a cash transfer to help improve maternal and infant health based on a systematic review and modelling. The second session entails a mapping of all research on maternal health in low- and middle-income countries from 2000 to 2012, and a summary of who has led and funded that work. The meeting closes with a fascinating look at the concept of maternity waiting homes, where the state would provide shelters for women to stay near the end of pregnancy.

“We hope this symposium will vividly depict the social vulnerability of pregnant women, its consequences, and the conditions into which so many children are born due to the child support grant beginning only on average at one year of life. The presenters will also propose some solutions to these challenges, and the health systems interventions needed to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce health inequalities of mothers and infants,” said Associate Professor Matthew Chersich who is convening the meeting.

The meeting takes place on Friday, 14 March in the Resource Centre of the Wits School of Public Health. For further information, please contact Ann Luusah at (011) 717 3420 or email her at Ann.luusah@wits.ac.za