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Making pregnancy safer

Mission and vision

WHO/Petterik Wiggers

MPS Vision

Our vision is a world in which skilled care at every birth is ensured for all women and in which
mothers and their newborn babies notwithstanding their social, cultural, ethnic or religious
background are assured access to comprehensive quality health services throughout all phases of
their lives.

MPS Mission

Every day, 1500 women and over 10 000 newborn babies die owing to complications in
pregnancy and childbirth. 98% of these deaths occur in the developing world. Most of them
could be prevented through skilled care during childbirth and the management of life-threatening

The Department of Making Pregnancy Safer (MPS), with over 120 staff worldwide aims to
reduce maternal, perinatal and newborn morbidity and mortality. MPS is working towards
attaining the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by accelerating the countries'
implementation of essential interventions to make pregnancy safer. In partnership with key
stakeholders, MPS also supports country efforts to strengthen their health systems.

To this end, MPS focuses on four strategic areas, in cooperation with regions and countries:

• Advocacy: Building a conducive social, political and economic environment to support

timely country actions;
• Technical country support: Responding to country needs and providing technical
support to achieve universal coverage of essential interventions that will ensure skilled
care at every birth within the context of a continuum of care;
• Partnership: Building effective partnerships across relevant programmes and partners
for coordinated actions in countries;
• Monitoring and evaluation: Strengthening assessment, monitoring and evaluation for
better decision-making by policy-makers and planners in countries.

Pregnancy is special. MPS is helping to make it safer.

Making pregnancy safer

Priority countries
75 MPS priority countries

MPS focuses its activities on 75 priority countries in which 97% of all maternal deaths
worldwide occur. Half of the countries are located in the African Region.

• Afghanistan
• Angola
• Bangladesh
• Belize
• Benin
• Bhutan
• Bolivia
• Brazil
• Burkina Faso
• Burundi
• Cambodia
• Cameroon
• Cape Verde
• Central African Republic
• Chad
• China
• Comoros
• Congo
• Côte d’Ivoire
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Djibouti
• Ecuador
• Egypt
• El Salvador
• Equatorial Guinea
• Eritrea
• Ethiopia
• Gabon
• Gambia
• Ghana
• Guatemala
• Guinea
• Guinea-Bissau
• Haiti
• Honduras
• India
• Indonesia
• Iraq
• Kazakhstan
• Kenya
• Lao People’s Democratic Republic
• Lesotho
• Liberia
• Madagascar
• Malawi
• Mali
• Mauritania
• Mozambique
• Myanmar
• Namibia
• Nepal
• Nicaragua
• Niger
• Nigeria
• Pakistan
• Papua New Guinea
• Paraguay
• Peru
• Philippines
• Rwanda
• Senegal
• Sierra Leone
• Somalia
• South Africa
• Sudan
• Swaziland
• Tajikistan
• Timor-Leste
• Togo
• Uganda
• United Republic of Tanzania
• Viet Nam
• Yemen
• Zambia
• Zimbabwe
The Department

The Department of Making Pregnancy Safer (MPS) was established in January 2005 to
strengthen WHO's capacity to support countries' efforts to improve maternal and newborn health
and reduce maternal, perinatal and newborn mortality. The Department aims at reinforcing
advocacy, technical support, monitoring and evaluation, and partnerships in countries to ensure
that WHO can provide the most up-to-date information and guidance on maternal and newborn

IMPAC - a MPS cornerstone

IMPAC – the Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth – is central to the
Department's technical assistance activities. It includes guidance and tools to increase pregnant
women's access to high-quality health services.

The approach aims at improving maternal and newborn health by addressing different factors
that are crucial for the access to skilled care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth. It
targets health systems, health workers, as well as families and communities.

Health systems

On the health systems level, the approach aims at improving not only the access to, but also the
quality of essential and emergency care. This objective involves national health policy as well as
district level management of infrastructure, supplies and financing. Furthermore it includes the
assessment of local needs and surveillance of health system performance.

Health workers

To improve the skills and competencies of health care workers is the second strategy of the
IMPAC approach. The Department provides clinical guidelines for care before, during and after
birth. It also cooperates with other health programmes to integrate further services into antenatal
care, as for example the prevention of HIV mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) or malaria

Family and community

Deep-rooted cultural beliefs in families and communities have a huge impact on a women's
decision whether she seeks skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth. To increase the
utilization of available health services, communities can offer health education as well as logistic
or financial support.