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Good Reads on Women’s and Children’s Health

According to the 2012 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report, while rates of maternal mortality have been nearly cut in half since 1990, rates are still well below the MDG 2015 targets. For example, Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) in developing countries is 15 times higher than MMR in developed nations and is at its highest in sub-Saharan African nations. There has been much discussion and effort by leading multilaterals, governments and even companies recently to come up with new solutions or additional resources to help improve women and children’s health.

FSG recently developed a report along with the Innovation Working Group in support of the global Every Woman, Every Child effort, looking at how companies can create shared value in women and children’s health. The report outlines opportunities for companies to contribute to the global efforts’ goal of saving 16 million women and children by 2015.  The report suggests that companies can do this by reconceiving products and markets, redefining productivity in value chains and by strengthening local clusters. 

The report outlined action items and additional resources for companies interested exploring shared value and CSR opportunities in women and children’s health. As follow up, these recent reports are great resources for background on the issues and opportunities for companies to become more familiar with the issues:

  • State of World Population 2012: Released this month by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the report focuses on the need for more and better family planning worldwide. The report highlights that 222 million women want to use family planning methods but do not have access to the right resources.  Family planning can significantly reduce health risks to both women and children, and for those in the poorest countries, family planning could reduce infant death by upwards of 46 percent.
  • UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities for Women and Children: The UN Commission released this report in September 2012 with recommendations for saving 16 million lives by 2015 by improving access to and use of essential medicines, medical devices and health supplies aimed at avoidable causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and childhood.  Recommendations include improving markets for life changing commodities by shaping global markets and local delivery markets, investing in innovative financing methods, strengthening product quality, and improving regulatory efficiency.  Additionally the Commission recommends focusing on improving national delivery of life-saving commodities and improving integration of private sector and consumer needs through product innovation.
  • Building a Future for Women and Children 2012 Report:  The Countdown to 2015 launched its report earlier this year outlining current progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals related to women’s and child’s health. The report includes detailed status updates and data by countries as well as opportunities to improve progress through policy, financial and system efforts.  

All of these reports provide helpful context on the current state of women’s and children’s health and the need for immediate investments and improvement in the poorest countries.  The challenge will be for companies to decide where and how to become engaged. For example, companies could look to identify opportunities within priority markets or those that align with core competencies and then see if these opportunities align with current CSR strategies, or if there is an opportunity to build a business case for the investment and create shared value.

Alexandra Geertz

Director