Working together to improve maternal and reproductive health

As a leader in the struggle to improve maternal health in the developing world, FCI works to build the political commitment and financial investment needed to prevent millions of women and babies from dying needlessly from causes that are routinely prevented or treated in wealthy countries. We actively participate in dialogues with governments of both developed and developing nations; speak out at the United Nations and global summits; collaborate and strategize with advocates for HIV/AIDS, child survival, and other important causes to demand working health systems and effective, accessible health care for all; develop publications and articles that stimulate awareness and action among policymakers, technical experts, and opinion leaders; and and engage in a range of international initiatives and partnerships. FCI’s experience, ability, and agility in working in global health partnerships puts us in a unique position to ensure that Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5Improve maternal health — and its targets, including reproductive health, remain high on the international development agenda. Key initiatives include:

Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH)

Countdown to 2015

International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC)

Postabortion Care Consortium

Campaign to End Fistula

Women Deliver

Global Health Initiative (GHI) Coalition

Grupo de Trabajo Regional para la Reducción de la Mortalidad Materna

Plan Andino de Prevención del Embarazo en Adolescentes — PLANEA

Maternal Health Task Force

International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights (IIMMHR)

Global Health Council

Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

Established in 2005, PMNCH  joins the maternal, newborn, and child health communities under the “continuum of care” banner. With more than 300 members, PMNCH works to achieve MDGs 4 and 5. After serving as secretariat for the Safe Motherhood Inter-Agency Group, which put safe motherhood on the world’s agenda, from 1987 through 2004,  FCI became co-chair of the board of this new, broader Partnership (serving in that role until 2011) and co-leading its advocacy strategy. Through its leadership role in PMNCH, FCI has worked to develop and build support for the Global Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (2009) and the UN Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health (2010), and focuses on holding governments and other stakeholders accountable for the commitments they made to those critical global initiatives.

Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival

Composed of a range of academic, civil society, government and multi-lateral partners,  Countdown to 2015 is a global initiative that monitors, collates, analyzes, and reports on data related to progress on 22 MNCH health coverage indicators in the 68 developing countries that account for 97% of maternal and child deaths. It adds value by forging a clear, evidence-based consensus on priority interventions and coverage indicators, and by providing a mechanism for holding countries and their partners accountable for results. Countdown was established in 2005 as a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution collaborative effort to track coverage levels for the health interventions proven to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality. A member of Countdown’s coordinating committee, FCI co-chairs the advocacy working group, working collaboratively with partners to develop and disseminate Countdown’s overarching messages.

International Consortium for Emergency Contraception

FCI serves as host organization for the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC), an alliance of non-governmental organizations working to expand access to emergency contraception (EC), with a focus on developing countries.
In 1996, the year ICEC was founded, only a handful of countries had a "dedicated" EC product on the market. Now women in over 140 countries can obtain emergency contraception — sometimes known as the morning-after pill — and in around 60 countries, EC is available over the counter. ICEC and its member organizations have played a key role in introducing EC in a wide range of settings. Still, women's access to EC is far from assured, and ICEC addresses new barriers to EC access. Most recently, ICEC and its Latin American sister network — the Consorcio Latinoamericano de Anticoncepción de Emergencia (CLAE) — established a legal committee to bring together lawyers and advocates to address emerging legal challenges to EC availability.

Postabortion Care Consortium

Incomplete abortion, whether spontaneous (miscarriage) or induced, is a global health problem, killing close to 70,000 women each year. Postabortion care (PAC) is a strategy to address this problem by treating women with complications, providing family planning to prevent future abortions, and engaging communities.The PAC Consortium was formed over a decade ago to inform the reproductive health community about complications related to unsafe abortion, and to promote PAC as an effective strategy for addressing this global problem. For 2009-2011, FCI is the consortium's host organization, the first non-USAID-funded NGO to lead this important global network of approximately 30 organizations.

Campaign to End Fistula

In 2003, the UN Population Fund-UNFPA and a number of partners, including FCI, launched the global Campaign to End Fistula, with the goal of making obstetric fistula as rare in developing countries as it is in the industrialized world. Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged labour without prompt medical intervention, resulting in chronic medical problems and social ostracism. The Campaign, now working in 47 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Arab region, has brought fistula to the attention of a wide audience, including the general public, policymakers, health officials and affected communities. FCI works closely with UNFPA on the Campaign's advocacy initiatives and publications.

Women Deliver

Women Deliver is a global advocacy organization bringing together voices from around the world to call for action against maternal death. FCI organized the groundbreaking Women Deliver conference in London in 2007. Women Deliver has grown into a multifaceted and powerful global advocacy initiative, becoming an independent organization at the end of 2009. It works globally to generate political commitment and financial investment for fulfilling MDG 5, and held the second Women Deliver conference, attracting 3,400 advocates, policymakers, development leaders, health care professionals, youth, advocates, and media from 146 countries, in Washington, D.C. in June 2010. FCI and Women Deliver, while now separate organizations, continue to work together in close partnership, and FCI is a member of the Women Deliver Advisory Group.

Global Health Initiative Coalition

In 2009, following the initial (very brief) announcement of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a coalition of 25 U.S.-based global health advocacy organizations came together to form the Global Health Initiative Coalition. The coalition initially produced a groundbreaking report on the challenges affecting health and rights in developing countries, and developed unified recommendations on how the GHI, and U.S. development assistance for health in general, should be structured. The formation of the GHI Coalition represents the first time that such a broad alliance has spoken with one voice, calling on the U.S. to take an ambitious, comprehensive approach to global health policy and funding. The coalition includes organizations focused on maternal, newborn and child health, AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, sexual and reproductive health and rights, the health workforce, neglected tropical diseases, health and human rights, and comprehensive primary healthcare, and represents a common commitment to avoid competing for scarce funding resources and to advance a clear vision of the vital importance of addressing health care needs holistically. FCI is a founding member of the GHI Coalition and currently serves as its Secretariat.

Grupo de Trabajo Regional para la Reducción de la Mortalidad Materna

FCI is a founding member of the Regional Task Force on Maternal Mortality Reduction (Grupo de Trabajo Regional para la Reducción
de la Mortalidad MaternaGTR), and acts as its Secretariat for the term 2011-2012. The GTR seeks to address maternal deaths in Latin America by supporting national and municipal actions; making available quality maternal health services; increasing public demand for services that high quality, affordable, and accessible; building partnerships; and assuring financial support and economic sustainability of maternal health care.  FCI also participates in regional efforts including the Andean Plan to Reduce Unwanted Teenage and Adolescent Pregnancy (Plan Andino de Prevención del Embarazo en Adolescentes — PLANEA) and country-level task forces on maternal mortality in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

  • Read about FCI's election as GTR Secretariat
  • Learn about the 2010 Conference of Women Leaders, which brought together more than 80 high-level leaders from government, regional and international agencies, and civil society organization
  • Download a new guide to best practices for preventing adolescent pregnancy, published in 2011 by FCI and the Plan Andino, based on the experience of six Andean region Ministries of Health and a range of civil society partners

Maternal Health Task Force

The Maternal Health Task Force contributes to shaping collective efforts to improve maternal health worldwide. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Task Force serves as a catalyst to address one of the most neglected areas in global health, providing a new forum dedicated specifically to maternal health, while reaching out to leaders from allied fields—including neonatal and child health, reproductive health, human rights, and HIV/AIDS—to devise innovative solutions to maternal morbidity and mortality. FCI president Ann Starrs serves as a member of the MHTF Advisory Group.

International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights

The IIMMHR, launched in 2007 at the Women Deliver conference, represents a renewed commitment to women and
their human right to safe pregnancy and childbirth. The Initiative works for the implementation of effective and equitable policies and programs to reduce maternal mortality, secure increased resources at the global and national levels, and promote understanding among key stake-holders on maternal mortality as a human rights issue. FCI is a founding member of the Initiative, and serves on its steering committee, and FCI-Kenya conducted a groundbreaking field project highlighting the links between maternal health and human rights.



Global Health Council

The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. Its  diverse membership is comprised of health-care professionals and organizations that include NGOs, foundations, corporations, government agencies and academic institutions that work to ensure global health for all. The Council works to ensure that all who strive for improvement and equity in global health have the information and resources they need to succeed.




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A Commitment to Partnership

At FCI, partnership lies at the very heart of who we are.

When we were founded in 1987, FCI’s first task was to organize the global conference that launched the Safe Motherhood Initiative. That historic effort connected us with partners with whom we still work closely today. Two years later, Ugandan women’s groups asked for help in designing a safe motherhood project. FCI opened an office in Kampala, beginning a broad program of in-country activities that continues right up to the present in Africa and Latin America.

We work creatively and flexibly with partners at every conceivable level: with international NGOs, research groups, governments, donors, and United Nations agencies in a range of international alliances, but also with mothers, midwives, and caregivers in remote and impoverished areas; with indigenous women’s groups and networks of youth organizations; with community councils and clinic managers; with traditional chiefs, religious leaders, and village mayors.

Global partnerships are important, but change needs to happen locally, because all health care is local. So FCI builds smart partnerships with the people who really know and understand local conditions and cultures. We work — in countries where maternal health services are often inaccessible, understaffed, or of poor quality — to help women, communities, and grassroots organizations develop the skills to demand the health care that is their right. We help health services and providers design, deliver, evaluate, and replicate programs that improve maternal and reproductive health outcomes for the women and families they serve. We seek to help poor nations build health systems that can provide skilled care, emergency treatment, post-partum care, and family planning for every woman, everywhere, creating a solid, sustainable foundation so that high-quality services will remain in place long after our participation has ended.

FCI plays key Global Strategy role

In our leading advocacy role in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, FCI has been integrally involved in developing and promoting the Global Strategy. We worked closely with the Secretary-General’s office, and with a broad range of governments and other partners, in a process that began in 2009 with the Global Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. FCI played a crucial role in coordinating the participation of NGOs and other civil society groups, in soliciting their support and commitment, and in ensuring that maternal and reproductive health goals were given high priority in the text.

The Global Strategy cuts across all the Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to health (MDGs 4, 5 and 6). It will serve as a global roadmap to identify and mobilize resources, policies, and critical interventions that will save the lives of more than 16 million women and children.

Mobilizing and empowering civil society

One of FCI's advocacy goals is to ensure that civil society is a valued and consistent participant in international partnerships and initiatives. An informed and empowered civil society is crucial to ensuring that women seek and receive the care that they need and to which they are entitled. We bring advocates, NGOs, community-based organizations, and health professionals together with policy makers and funders to ensure that civil society's crucial voice is included in policy development at the international, national, and community levels. 

FCI hosts intercultural care conference

Family Care International co-hosted a two-day meeting in late September to explore how well new, more culturally-sensitive maternal health approaches are responding to the needs of indigenous women in six Latin American countries. The conference, which took place in Quito, Ecuador and was also hosted by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Public Health and UNFPA-Ecuador, included technical and Ministry of Health teams, as well as indigenous leaders, from Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. Discussions focused on strategies for ensuring  the implementation of culturally-sensitive norms and protocols at the community level, highlighting best practices in intercultural maternal health care.

This conference built on several years of work by FCI and its partners, with support from the UN Population Fund-UNFPA, the Spanish international development agency AECID,and other donors, to improve the quality and increase utilization of maternal health services in rural communities in several Latin American countries by ensuring that care is provided in a manner that is sensitive to the customs and traditions of indigenous cultures.






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