Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Global Program

Our practice areas

PATH has a breadth and depth of expertise in designing and implementing programs that protect mother’s health, safeguard young lives, promote good nutrition, and advance child development. Our practice areas include:


Nutrition

Boy being fed

PATH emphasizes interventions that aim to prevent malnutrition during the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday. Photo: Miguel Alvarez

PATH’s extensive nutrition programming focuses on prevention of stunting in children younger than two years and prevention of anemia in both mothers and children—the most prevalent nutrition problems impacting maternal and child health and survival in low-resource settings. We emphasize interventions that aim to prevent malnutrition during the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday, when there is a critical window of opportunity to shape a child’s long-term growth, learning, and productivity.

PATH is a leader in promoting healthy infant and young child feeding behaviors, supporting countries to bolster health systems and policies for better nutrition, and facilitating public-private partnerships to increase access to nutrients in staple foods. Our team has developed evidence-based and practical tools for program implementers to improve the nutrition sensitivity of agriculture, food security livelihoods, and water, sanitation, and health programs. We focus on health systems strengthening, capacity building and quality improvement, and strengthening links between communities and health care facilities to prevent malnutrition within the context of HIV.

Strengthening the capacity of countries to scale up high-quality nutrition solutions is an important aspect of our work. By leading the Maximizing the Quality of Scaling up Nutrition project, funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), we are working with a consortium of partners to provide DFID with technical assistance to scale up proven nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs with a focus on maximizing their quality and impact.

Our work also includes scaling up Ultra Rice® among other rice fortification technologies to create robust markets for fortified rice in high rice-consuming regions of the world. The technology is a preventive approach to addressing micronutrient malnutrition, and PATH is now modeling the way forward for integration of the technology into large-scale public-sector programs in India, retail channels in Brazil, food aid programming in both Burundi and Cambodia, and community distribution networks in Vietnam.


Maternal health

Mother breastfeeding infant

PATH’s work addresses the major causes of maternal death and disability.

While the rate of maternal deaths has declined on the global level in the last decade, it’s estimated that more than 300,000 women still die each year during pregnancy, childbirth, or the six weeks following birth. The burden of maternal mortality remains especially high in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

PATH’s work addresses the major causes of maternal death and disability. To combat excessive bleeding after childbirth—the single greatest cause of maternal mortality—we emphasize community-based approaches, build skills of birth attendants, and shape supportive policies to expand the practice of active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL), a proven and effective method for preventing many cases of postpartum hemorrhage. We are building evidence for the safe use of the drug oxytocin, a key component of AMTSL. And we’re advancing its use in the prefilled, autodisable Uniject™ injection system to create an affordable, easy-to-use solution for delivering the drug in peripheral settings.

We’re also examining the potential for affordable tools to diagnose common infections and other illnesses among new mothers.


Newborn and child care

Health worker weighing baby on a scale

The PATH team has been recognized internationally for their innovative contributions to newborn health.

PATH is safeguarding young lives by scaling up essential newborn and child care interventions. We are advancing affordable technologies, ranging from neonatal resuscitators that help newborns with breathing problems to vaccines that protect against influenza, pneumococcal disease, and other common childhood illnesses. We work with health programs in developing countries to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV through interventions such as counseling for mothers and promotion of optimal infant and young child feeding practices. We mobilize women to access health services during pregnancy, delivery, and after birth. Our community-led mothers’ groups counsel women and their families in simple practices for keeping babies healthy.

The PATH team has been recognized internationally for their innovative contributions to newborn health. Team members work with the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children around resuscitation technologies; sit on the Helping Babies Breathe Implementation Advisory Group, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children, the Global Newborn Indicators Committee, among others; and PATH serves as an alternate board member on the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). PATH also serves as the chair of the LAC Neonatal Alliance, an inter-agency group that includes UN organizations, USAID, NGOs, professional associations, and national-level ministries of health throughout the region. The Alliance fostered a consensus among countries in the region on essential actions for newborn health by developing a Regional Strategy and Action Plan to promote newborn health, with a special focus on the most vulnerable populations.

A woman holding up a baby

PATH is advancing affordable technologies, ranging from neonatal resuscitators that help newborns with breathing problems to vaccines that protect against influenza, pneumococcal disease, and other common childhood illnesses. Photo: PATH/Mike Wang

In the Dominican Republic, through the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), PATH leads projects in management of premature babies through Kangaroo Mother Care, basic neonatal resuscitation through Helping Babies Breathe, sepsis management, and the incorporation into newborn care of strategies for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Since the beginning of the project, newborn infection prevention actions in participating hospitals have greatly increased, and deaths in low birth weight and premature babies have decreased dramatically for infants enrolled in Kangaroo Mother Care programs. MCHIP and PATH held the First Annual Kangaroo Mother Care Regional Conference, in Santo Domingo in November 2011, with ten participating countries.


Early childhood development

Male infant child

PATH’s early childhood development interventions focus on addressing the social and emotional development of children as well as their health during the most critical stages of their development. PATH/Lesley Reed

Early childhood development is an emerging area of expertise for PATH. Through innovative approaches in Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa, we are incorporating early childhood development interventions into maternal and child health programming. The goal is to address the social and emotional development of children as well as their health during the most critical stages of their development—especially from pregnancy through two years of age.

Our integrated programs combine early child development activities, such as educating and supporting caregivers to stimulate child growth and learning, with a range of health interventions, including safe delivery of babies and nutrition support. Our comprehensive approach includes strengthening local health and development systems and community structures to provide services that are responsive to community needs. We are documenting lessons learned from this work to share with partners and colleagues.