Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care

Midwife listening to baby's heartbeat through a fetoscope, Cambodia

Each year, 287,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, one every two minutes. For each woman who dies, 30 survive but suffer lifelong morbidity. In addition, 2.6 million babies per year are stillborn and approximately 3 million die in the first month of life. Most of these deaths are preventable. 

'Short skills courses that save lives’

The major complications that account for nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are:

  • Severe bleeding (mostly after childbirth)
  • Infections (usually after childbirth)
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)
  • Complications from delivery and unsafe abortion

The remainder are caused by, or associated with, diseases such as malaria and AIDS during pregnancy.

The focus continues to be on the key strategies of Skilled Birth Attendance (SBA) and the availability of quality Emergency Obstetric Care and Newborn Care (EmONC), in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.

One of the foundations CMNH is built on is delivering quality effective evidence based training in Reproductive Maternal Newborn Health (RMNH), which meets the needs of individual countries and participant groups.

Since 2009, through our ‘Making it Happen' programme, we have trained more than 20,000 healthcare providers in 11 countries. Immediate post training assessment revealed a significant improvement in both knowledge and skills among staff.

We have developed new practical and competency-based approaches to building the capacity of healthcare providers to deliver effective, good quality care across the continuum of care spectrum. These have been adopted as best practice by in-country Ministries of Health and professional associations. Whether through on or off site training, or with the development and use of skills rooms, these flexible approaches have been shown to successfully impact on outcomes for mothers and babies. They ensure that SBAs are equipped to recognise an emergency and manage the care of childbearing women appropriately.

These are complemented by innovative research approaches and evaluation frameworks, designed in partnership with leading international agencies, to respond to the high priority research questions regarding MNCH policy and programs.

Working to meet the changing policy agenda and political landscapes, there are constant developments in the team to innovate and explore new ways to meet challenges for example, how to provide support for skills developments in unstable environments.

We have ensured that the training focuses not just on the ‘hard skills’ but also on the essential components of care such as decision making, communication, respect and triage ensuring that all care is embedded within the wider quality agenda.

The course is designed to cover the five major causes of maternal death - haemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, obstructed labour and complications of abortion and the signal functions of Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care and Newborn Care (CEmONC) and Basic Emergency Obstetric Care and Newborn Care (BEmONC). The EmONC ‘skills and drills’ training package is badged by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and it is now used in a variety of settings in both Africa and Asia.