Reducing maternal mortality and morbidity

Options managed the DFID-funded Reducing Maternal Mortality Project (RMMP) from 2006–2010, working alongside the Government’s health sector support programme. RMMP reduced maternal mortality rates by increasing the poor’s access to affordable maternal health services, with a focus on improving access to safe abortion care and long-term family planning. The project supported the national plan to reduce unsafe abortion, particularly amongst poor and vulnerable women, through the roll-out of comprehensive abortion care and long-term family planning services. Our priority areas were:

  • Increasing the coverage of safe abortion services
  • Increasing the proportion of married women aged 25–49 using long-term and permanent contraception methods
  • Increasing the contraceptive prevalence rate (modern methods) for married women.

RMMP worked with the government to train health providers and ensure health facilities are properly equipped to deliver high quality services. We developed and delivered a programme to assess, upgrade and renovate facilities to minimum operating standards. This involved developing the curriculum, training and equipping of health providers who were then supported by RMMPs quality assurance team.

RMMP also worked to identify barriers to accessing reproductive health services (including financial barriers). We worked closely with local and national officials and health professionals to develop communications and advocacy strategies to increase awareness about the legality of abortion and improve knowledge of accessible services.

From 2006–2010, we contributed to a 69% increase in the number of women using safe abortion services, exceeding the project’s original target. RMMP ensured that comprehensive abortion care services were available in 13 selected hospitals and the remainder provided basic abortion care. Since the beginning of the project, safe abortion services were provided to 23,057 women by 345 trained health workers and we successfully advocated for abortion – with a focus on equity of access by the poor – to be included in the national health sector plan 2008–2015.

Funded by: 

Our experts

  • Sarah Barnett, PhD
    Sarah Barnett has over 17 years’ experience in national and international public health, focusing on monitoring and evaluation within reproductive and maternal health, including assessments of quality of care. She has extensive experience in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya and Cambodia. Sarah has designed and implemented interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and large-scale prospective surveillance systems to monitor maternal and neonatal care-seeking behaviour, home care practices and mortality.

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