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Measurement and accountability for maternal, newborn and child health: fit for 2030?
  1. Tanya Marchant1,
  2. Ties Boerma2,
  3. Theresa Diaz3,
  4. Luis Huicho4,
  5. Catherine Kyobutungi5,
  6. Claire-Helene Mershon6,
  7. Joanna Schellenberg1,
  8. Kate Somers6,
  9. Peter Waiswa7
  10. On behalf of the Nairobi Group
    1. 1Disease Control, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
    2. 2Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    3. 3Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Aging, World Health Organization, Geneve, Switzerland
    4. 4Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
    5. 5African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi, Kenya
    6. 6Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, Washington, USA
    7. 7School of Public Health, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
    1. Correspondence to Dr Tanya Marchant; Tanya.Marchant{at}

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    Summary box

    • At the onset of the Sustainable Development Goals, in 2015, a group of global health experts delivered a call to action for an improved measurement system for women’s and children’s health.

    • Five principles were defined, including having a focused set of core indicators, making data relevant to countries, investing in innovations, embedding equity measures and supportive global leadership.

    • Five years later, in 2020, a second meeting reviewed progress against these principles and identified gaps and opportunities for investment in the coming decade.

    • The greatest opportunity now is to make an intentional shift from global to local actions that strengthen measurement systems in the locations where they are needed.

    • Greater country ownership of the measurement and accountability agenda is needed to promote more context-specific actions that reflect multisectoral realities, and that are supported by a responsive and adaptable measurement community.


    As the current global COVID-19 pandemic makes clear, data are power. Now more than ever it is important to reflect on who holds that power and how well it is used to improve global health. This was also on the minds of a group of global health experts at the onset of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, after a first meeting in Kirkland, USA, these experts delivered a call to action for a robust maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) measurement system that could effectively measure and monitor the coverage of high-impact healthcare while also improving capacity to track universal health coverage for women and children.1 That call to action defined five principles. There should be (1) a core focus on a set of indicators; (2) data relevant to countries; (3) measurement innovations; (4) embedded equity analysis and (5) global leadership.

    Five years later, in 2020, MNCH measurement experts reconvened in Nairobi, Kenya, to reflect on progress against …

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