Credit NHSSP/Options

Supporting safer motherhood programme

The Support to the Safe Motherhood Programme (SSMP) 2005–2010, provided embedded technical support to the government of Nepal to improve maternal and newborn survival. SSMP worked in collaboration with government and non-government stakeholders to support evidence-based planning, and strategy and policy development at state and district levels leading to support implementation. Options provided technical assistance to support the development of key policies, strategies and protocols including: skilled birth attendant policy; blood products protocol; procurement in maternal and newborn health policy; the remote area strategy; the maternity incentive scheme and free delivery policy. 

The programme raised the profile of maternal health by increasing the numbers and utilisation of skilled attendants and emergency obstetric care services. We implemented DFID’s largest demand side programme (equity and access) which contributed to increased and more equitable utilisation of maternal newborn and child health services. The SSMP programme has provided technical support to strengthen the health management information system, including the establishment of emergency obstetric care monitoring across 19 districts and has supported the government of Nepal in the development and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation programme for the new free delivery care policy.

Many studies have documented SSMP and its predecessor NSMP’s success in reducing maternal mortality. During the 14 years that Options provided technical support in maternal health in Nepal, maternal mortality halved from 539 to 281 deaths per 100,000 live births (Nepal Demographic and Health Survey, 2006).

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Our experts

  • Alison Dembo Rath
    Alison Dembo Rath leads Options’ health systems work, with a particular focus on South Asia. She has over 20 years’ experience in design, management, monitoring and evaluation of health systems development programmes at policy and implementation levels. Building on her early career in nursing in the UK, Alison has particular expertise in delivering quality maternal and newborn health care services. Alison has experience of working across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, managing DFID-funded maternal health and health sector programmes in India and Nepal.

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