Maternal and Child Health: Empowering Families Through the MCH Handbook.

World Health Day 2024: My Health, My Right

World Health Day 2024 is here, and the theme “My Health, My Right” is all about reminding us that everyone deserves good health, no matter who they are. This theme tells us that everyone has the right to get good healthcare, learn about staying healthy, and access information about health. Maternal health, which is how mothers stay healthy during pregnancy and childbirth, is super important. So, with this theme in mind, it’s essential to talk about why it’s crucial for pregnant women to get good healthcare and how a special book from Japan, called the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Handbook, is helping moms-to-be and their families. In this article, we’ll talk about the challenges pregnant women face around the world, why prenatal care (care before the baby is born) is so important, and how the MCH Handbook is making a big difference in keeping mothers and babies healthy.

The Global Maternal Health Landscape:
Maternal and child health is crucial for global well-being, with approximately 139 million births occurring annually worldwide. Despite progress, maternal mortality remains a significant concern, with 216 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 2015. Tragically, many women also experience perinatal or neonatal deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia bear a disproportionate burden, with approximately 295,000 maternal deaths reported in 2017. Health inequities persist, especially in low-income countries, where children face nearly 18 times higher mortality risks before age five compared to high-income nations. Preventable causes such as severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, delivery complications, and unsafe abortions contribute to maternal deaths. Additionally, neonatal deaths often result from preterm delivery, severe infections, and birth asphyxia. These statistics underscore the urgent need to address maternal and child health as a global priority.

Challenges Faced by Pregnant Women:
Pregnant women, especially in low and lower-middle-income countries where 94% of maternal deaths occur, encounter significant challenges accessing timely and effective maternal healthcare. Despite progress in reducing child mortality rates, maternal mortality rates have not met Millennium Development Goal 5 targets. The World Health Organization emphasizes that most maternal deaths are preventable with timely access to emergency obstetric interventions. The critical period around labour, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period contributes to the majority of maternal deaths, with five conditions accounting for 60% of fatalities. Complications can arise suddenly, necessitating emergency obstetric care as crucial for safe motherhood. Thaddeus and Maine’s three delays model identify key barriers: delay in deciding to seek care, delay in reaching a medical facility, and delay in receiving appropriate care upon arrival. In sub-Saharan Africa, high maternal mortality rates persist due to socioeconomic factors, limited awareness of pregnancy complications, and inadequate access to emergency obstetric care. Addressing these barriers is vital for safe childbirth and reducing preventable maternal deaths in the region.

Empowering Pregnant Women:
Empowering pregnant women can lead to better health outcomes for both mothers and infants. When women feel empowered, they are more likely to have positive experiences during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as better psychological well-being. Education, access to healthcare, and community support are crucial for empowering women to make informed decisions about their health. Japan’s MCH Handbook exemplifies this empowerment, providing expectant mothers with comprehensive information and resources to navigate their pregnancy journey confidently.

The Role of the MCH Handbook in Empowering Families:
The MCH Handbook serves as a vital tool in promoting continuity of care and reducing maternal and child mortality. Originating in post-World War II Japan, this innovative initiative has since been adopted by numerous countries, including Indonesia. By equipping families with knowledge and promoting preventive care, the handbook fosters early interventions and enhances maternal and child health outcomes.

The Success Story of Indonesia:
Indonesia’s adoption of the MCH Handbook, supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), exemplifies the handbook’s transformative impact. Through collaborative efforts, Indonesia successfully integrated maternal and child health records into a standardized handbook, significantly improving access to essential healthcare services and reducing mortality rates.

Beyond Borders: Lessons for the World:
Professor Shafi Bhuiyan a pioneer, PhD scholar on MCH Handbook] and Professor Nakamura Yasuhide et al. Professor Emeritus Osaka University organized an international committee on Handbook back to 2009 and advocating over 50 countries for development and utilization of MCH Handbook. Among many countries, Indonesia’s success story has inspired global adoption of the MCH Handbook, with approximately 50 countries implementing this invaluable resource. By prioritizing continuity of care, early detection, and family empowerment, the handbook has become a beacon of hope for maternal and child health worldwide.
As we commemorate World Health Day 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to championing maternal health as a fundamental human right. By addressing the challenges faced by pregnant women and promoting the importance of prenatal care, we can empower expectant mothers and ensure every pregnancy counts in achieving global health equity. Together, let us advocate for universal access to quality maternal healthcare, because every mother and child deserves the opportunity to thrive.
Remember: My Health, My Right!



About the author

Share your story

Are you a passionate and dedicated individual with a vision for helping advance public health professionals and their careers around the world? Do you want to share real advice and personal stories on our blog?


A simple template to get you started.

We will also add you to our Public Health community so that you can receive more awesome stuff from us. If you’re not enjoying them, you can unsubscribe instantly.