Reproductive and Maternal Child Health Services

To provide support to the National Department of Health in improving the quality of, and access to reproductive, maternal and child health services. 

Background

Maternal and child health mortality rates in South Africa remain unacceptably high in South Africa, and community-focused efforts are crucial in addressing this situation. This DFID- funded project aimed to strengthen public accountability mechanisms at community health facilities, in order to improve maternal and child healthcare services, using a community score card methodology.

The project focussed on the Eastern Cape and KZN provinces and was implemented by the Black Sash Port Elizabeth and Durban Regional Offices. It investigated if, and how, existing accountability structures in communities and public health facilities can be strengthened and included to increase community participation to improve maternal and child health.

The project showed that strengthening the accountability function of Clinic Committees, involving service users and service providers, and other multi-stakeholders involved in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), has the potential to form a social compact to jointly address supply and demand challenges.

This three-year national programme, running from May 2012 until March 2015, was funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.

Objectives

  • Improve demand and accountability for MNCH services.
  • Strengthen delivery of school health, ward-based primary health care, and obstetric & neonatal emergency services.
  • Support districts in overseeing improvement of MNCH services.
  • Document and disseminate new knowledge in order to remove barriers which prevent uptake and access to MNCH services.

Actions taken

The project started out with an extensive situational analysis in 2013, resulting in a Baseline Report. It also conducted a literature review on experience in strengthening clinic committees and on possible interventions to strengthen demand and accountability for MNCH services (such as community scorecards, safe motherhood groups and participatory budgeting) as intervention methodologies.