Accelerator Behaviors for Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths
Updated July 2016
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Tremendous strides have been made in the past several decades in saving the lives of mothers and children. The numbers of those dying has decreased dramatically, thanks to the tireless efforts of governments, international organizations, communities, and individual households.
Yet, with all of this progress, the numbers are still unacceptably high. In 2015:
• 5.9 million children under age five died - 16,000 every day
• 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth - 830 every day*
Thus efforts continue unabated. In 2012 there was a worldwide meeting, the Child Survival Call to Action, which set a goal date of 2035 for reaching fewer than 20 deaths per thousand live births in all countries.
In 2014, at the second anniversary of the 2012 meeting, USAID identified ten key "accelerator behaviors" which if taken could substantially contribute to ending preventable deaths. Each of these behaviors impact a major cause of child and/or maternal mortality across the continuum of care/lifecycle yet currently have low uptake in many countries. Accelerator behaviors are thus priority behaviors for programming as they have the highest potential to hasten the decline of child and maternal death worldwide.**
In 2016 USAID published its Acceleerator Behavior website (Beta version), listing the ten behaviors and offering program guidance:
The Ten Accelerator Behaviors are:
- MALARIA: Caregivers recognize symptoms of malaria and seek prompt diagnosis and appropriate care
- DIARRHEA: Caregivers provide appropriate treatment for children at onset of symptoms
- PNEUMONIA: Caregivers seek prompt and appropriate care for signs and symptoms of acute respiratory infection (ARI)
- IMMUNIZATIONS: caregivers seek full course of timely vaccinations for infants
- WATER SANITATION AND HYGIENE (WASH): Handwashing with soap at critical times (after defecation, after changing diapers and before food preparation and eating
- HEALTHY TIMING AND SPACING OF PREGNANCIES (HTSP): After a live birth, women use a modern contraceptive method to avoid pregnancy for at least 24 months (resulting in approximately three years between births)
- NUTRITION: Early initiation (within one hour) and exclusive breastfeeding for six months after delivery
- MATERNAL: Pregnant women attend antenatal care and attend facilities for delivery to reduce preventable maternal deaths
- NEWBORN: Seek prompt and appropriate care for signs and symptoms of newborn illness to reduce preventable newborn deaths
- PREVENTION OF MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION (PMTCT): Active demand at household level for identification and treatment of all HIV-infected pregnant women
In addition to these ten behaviors, USAID identified behaviors related to each which contribute to improving the enabling environment to effectively carry out the accelerator behavior and may be bundled with other accelerator behaviors. The full list of accelerator and related behaviors can be accessed here.
This Trending Topic provides several resources and project examples for addressing each of the 10 behaviors. However, there are many more materials in the Health COMpass and you should conduct a search on the particular behavior or behaviors that your project is focusing on.
- *Source: World Health Organization website
- **Source: Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths. Retrieved 2/22/16
Banner photo: A mother and her infant in Somaliland, Somalia.© 2014 What Took You So Long for Medical Aid Films, Courtesy of Photosharei, Courtesy of Photoshare