Policy Context

The UK’s 2021 policy paper, Ending Preventable Death in Mothers, Babies and Children by 2030 sets out the UK’s vision on tackling MNCH and has a strong focus on health systems strengthening (including workforce and midwives), investing in high-impact interventions and best-buys, and focusing on R&D.

The UK’s case for addressing MNCH is grounded in a rights-based approach, arguing that everyone has the right to access essential services needed to save their lives and that, at present, there are unacceptable number of deaths that could be prevented. The UK also notes that good health, nutrition and nurturing care in early childhood can reap life-long benefits for individuals and communities and can help deliver wider change.

The UK also argues that the health systems needed to support MNCH are the same systems needed to support health security. Therefore, supporting MNCH provides a good proxy for strong health systems and is vital for achieving UHC.

The UK focuses on four key areas to support MNCH: 

  • Strong health systems and UHC; 
  • Support for human rights, gender and equality, and SRHR; 
  • Supporting healthier lives and safer environments through nutritious food systems and WASH; and 
  • Support for technology, research and innovation such as medicines, vaccines and innovative health technologies.

MNCH is core part of the UK’s 2021 policy paper, Health Systems Strengthening for Global Health Security and Universal Health Coverage Paper, and is mentioned in the UK’s 2023 Global Health Framework. It is also mentioned as part of the UK’s 2023 International Women and Girls Strategy with a focus on girls’ health, including undernutrition and unwanted pregnancies. This is linked to its impact on girls’ ability to access education, and in relation to women and girls’ empowerment, which includes a focus on SRHR.

How is the UK’s bilateral ODA to MNCH evolving?

Between 2017 and 2021, the UK’s funding to MNCH declined by 65%. This is a reflection of overall ODA budget cuts in 2020 and 2021.

How does the Netherlands allocate bilateral MNCH ODA?

Of allocable bilateral UK MNCH ODA in 2021, the largest share went to LICs in Africa. This is in line with the UK’s 2022 Development Strategy, which states that the UK will sustain its commitments in Africa and channel the majority of its ODA towards LICs.

The largest funding to maternal and newborn health ODA in 2021 came from reproductive health, followed by health policy and administrative management, and basic nutrition. The UK’s funding to child health focused on health policy and administrative management, infectious disease control, and basic nutrition. This is in line with the UK’s strong link between MNCH and health systems strengthening and UHC.

Key Bodies

How is ODA to MNCH calculated?

ODA to MNCH is estimated using the Muskoka2 methodology which estimates the proportion that each relevant OECD CRS purpose code contributes to reproductive health (RH), maternal and newborn health (MNH), and child health (CH). Disbursements that benefit MNCH were determined using CRS purpose codes for all donors except GAVI, UNFPA, and UNICEF, for which fixed percentages of disbursements were considered to benefit MNCH.

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