Policy Brief

A Policy Guide for Implementing Essential Interventions for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH)

World Health Organization
World Health Organization
Publication Year:
May 04, 2020
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger


Policies are essential for ensuring that all women and children have the opportunity to achieve the highest standard of health, by supporting the development of and sustaining effective health systems and by creating environments that promote health more broadly. The majority of mortality and morbidity in women and children can be prevented with effective and affordable interventions that prevent or treat the most common causes of illness. There is widespread consensus that improving the coverage and quality of these interventions should be the focus of policies and associated programmes. Social determinants, including education, income, clean energy, availability of housing and access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities, also influence women’s and children’s health and their ability to receive essential interventions. However, in many settings, interventions are still not reaching women and children, and key social determinants of health remain unaddressed. In 2010, an estimated 287 000 women died during pregnancy and childbirth and in 2012, 6.6 million children under the age of five died. Many countries are not yet on track to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6, - to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, respectively.




What is the purpose of this compendium?

This compendium is a companion document to the Essential Interventions, Commodities and Guidelines for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.1 It presents key health-systems-related policies that support the delivery of proven interventions to women and children. It also includes policies on the economic, social, technological and environmental factors that influence health outcomes and service delivery. By synthesizing policy areas, the compendium aims to provide the basis for an integrated approach to advocacy, policy dialogue and planning for RMNCH – both within the health sector and across sectors that influence RMNCH. Policy recommendations change over time, as new evidence on effective interventions and delivery channels are added. For this reason, the compendium is a living document and will be regularly updated. The more detailed process of policy review, development and implementation is beyond the scope of this document. Links are provided to tools and resources for this purpose.




Who is it for?

The compendium is designed for policy-makers and managers who are responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating RMNCH strategies, plans and programmes, as well as those from sectors that influence health-service delivery and RMNCH outcomes. In addition, a number of actors outside the government may play an important role in delivering RMNCH services, including civil society organizations, professional associations and the private sector. Within Ministries of Health, RMNCH programmes may be housed in a single department (such as reproductive and family health) or across several departments such as reproductive and maternal health, newborn and child health, immunization, nutrition, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. RMNCH programmes work in close collaboration with health systems departments such as human resources, essential medicines and commodities, health promotion/communication, monitoring and evaluation. Policy-makers and programme managers in all of these areas may have responsibility for aspects of RMNCH policy – and need to be involved with reviewing and developing policy content. Sectors that influence RMNCH include financing, agriculture, education, transportation, energy, social and community development and national human rights institutions. Advocates, policy-makers and managers working in these sectors may also use the compendium to inform policy dialogue and planning.


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