Assessing DFID’s results in improving maternal health

DFID programmes have expanded access to family planning and some maternal health services, but a renewed effort is required to reach young women and girls and to generate lasting impacts on quality of care and maternal health outcomes.

Score: Amber/Red
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 30 October 2018
  3. Type: Impact review
  4. Subject: Global health, Women and girls
  5. Assessment: Amber/Red
  6. Location: Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi
  7. Lead commissioner: Alison Evans
  8. SDGs covered:Good health and wellbeing


Our review on assessing DFID’s results in improving maternal health was published in October 2018.

Every year, more than 300,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. It is the number one killer of young women aged between 15 and 19 in the developing world and yet most maternal deaths, injuries and illnesses are easily preventable with the provision of appropriate, good quality sexual, reproductive and maternal health services.

Improving maternal health has been a longstanding objective for the UK aid programme. In 2010, DFID published its Results Framework on reproductive, maternal and newborn health, setting targets for DFID’s contribution to family planning, safe delivery and maternity services. The Framework set a headline goal of saving 50,000 women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth by 2015.

During this time, DFID spent £4.6 billion on programmes related to reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health. Within this, £1.3 billion was spent on programmes more specifically related to family planning, reproductive health care and maternal and neonatal health. By the end of the period, DFID announced that it had achieved more than double its targets on safe delivery and maternal lives saved.

As a result of our findings, we awarded an amber-red score and made five recommendations. We followed up this review in July 2020 but kept open the option of returning to the maternal health review again if the publication of the Ending Preventable Deaths Action Plan and the Health Systems Strengthening Position Paper did not go ahead as planned in 2020 or if they were of insufficient quality. Neither paper was published so we will return to this review again for a third time in next year’s follow-up process, due to be published in summer 2022.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good health and well-being



Published 24 Jan 2018

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 30 October 2018

Government response

Published 5 December 2018

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 19 December 2018

ICAI follow-up

Published 23 July 2020

Further follow-up

Published 23 June 2021

Further follow-up

Published 30 June 2022