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.