Maternal and Newborn Health

Progress towards attaining Millennium Development Goal 5 – reducing maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 – has been slow and geographically and socio-economically uneven. With 289,000 maternal deaths still occurring every year across the globe (WHO et al., 2013), it is clear that traditional maternal health interventions alone have not been sufficient to adequately address this issue.

At SHARE’ inception, while the plausibility of the impact of water and sanitation on maternal mortality could be inferred from the direct and indirect impacts of WASH on MNH, these multiple, complex and often overlapping pathways lacked methodical mapping and appraisal. Furthermore, much of the evidence about these pathways was weak, based on observational studies and anecdotal evidence.

So, since 2010, SHARE has funded five studies on the relationship between WASH and MNH, which have helped advance our understanding of this area and have contributed to putting WASH on the MNH global agenda:

  1. WASH and Maternal and Newborn Health: The Links
  2. WASH and Maternal Mortality Systematic Review
  3. WASH in Tanzanian Birth Settings
  4. Infection Prevention Control and WASH in Maternity Units
  5. Sanitation and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

This body of work is summarised in our WASH and Maternal and Newborn Health: Time to Act policy brief. 


SHARE contributes to achieving universal access to effective, sustainable and equitable sanitation and hygiene by generating evidence to improve policy and practice worldwide.