Maternal and Newborn Health

Learn how MOMENTUM improves maternal and newborn health while increasing opportunities for women and infants to reach their full potential.

Karen Kasmauski/MCSP

The world has made considerable progress in reducing maternal and newborn mortality in recent decades. Maternal deaths have declined nearly 40 percent since 2000, and newborn deaths have declined nearly 50 percent since 1990.1 Yet these achievements mask significant inequities within and across countries.  In 2019, the risk of dying before age five for a child born in the highest-mortality country was about 70 times higher than in the lowest-mortality country,2 suggesting that the majority of maternal and newborn deaths would have been preventable in other settings. Most maternal and newborn deaths today are concentrated in fragile settings and among the most vulnerable women and infants who face barriers to accessing high-quality and lifesaving care. A woman’s death during pregnancy or childbirth threatens her newborn’s chance of survival, lowers her other children’s chances for survival and education, and threatens her family’s stability. Ultimately, maternal and newborn deaths undermine a country’s prosperity.

MOMENTUM accelerates reductions in maternal and newborn mortality while increasing opportunities for women and infants to reach their full potential.

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MOMENTUM’s Approach

Building on previous USAID investment and learning, we increase the coverage and quality of proven maternal and newborn interventions by strengthening the capacity of local institutions and more effectively engaging the private sector to deliver health care.


Expand access to life-saving maternal and newborn health care

MOMENTUM assists USAID partner countries in selecting, adapting, and scaling up high-impact, context-relevant maternal and newborn health interventions with an emphasis on increasing access to emergency care. Understanding that many women cannot routinely access health facilities and may miss opportunities for preventive and curative care, we also work with countries to strengthen the quality and reach of community health care.


Ensure women receive quality and respectful care

Evidence suggests that a woman’s fear of disrespect or abuse in facility-based maternity care is a stronger deterrent to seeking skilled care than cost or distance in some countries.3 MOMENTUM helps countries promote dignity and respect in maternal and newborn health care and create accountability mechanisms to reinforce it.

A health worker in Sindh province, Pakistan, examines a pregnant woman's abdomen.
Ali Khurshid (Lighthouse Photography)/MCSP

Meet the unique needs of vulnerable women and newborns in fragile settings

MOMENTUM increases the coverage of high-impact maternal and newborn health practices in fragile settings and strengthens the resilience of health systems to sustain those practices. In addition, we identify state-of-the-art maternal and newborn approaches that address unique barriers to healthy outcomes in fragile settings.

A woman in South Sudan sits on a bench while holding her child.
IMA World Health/Corus International

Apply practices that work best to help mothers and infants reach their full potential

MOMENTUM advances global technical leadership to measurably reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. We accomplish this by assisting country leaders in translating evidence and interventions to their local context, generating new learnings, and taking these learnings to scale across USAID partner countries. We also help shape global, regional, and country dialogue around the most promising maternal and newborn health practices to advance global progress on reducing morbidity and mortality for those most vulnerable.

Here, midwife Nirina Voahangy Rasoarimamonjy holds Claudine Rayeloarisoa's baby. Claudine, 30, gave birth at 5:00 AM, and is surrounded by her family.
Karen Kasmauski/MCSP


  1. UNICEF Data, “Maternal Mortality,”, and World Health Organization, “Newborns: Reducing Mortality,” Sept. 19, 2019,
  2. United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNIGME). Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2020, Stillbirth and Child Mortality Estimates. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund, 2020. [Updated every year.]
  3. Tamara Windau-Melmer, A Guide for Advocating for Respectful Maternity Care (Washington, DC: Futures Group, Health Policy Project, 2013),

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