Women in developing countries, especially in remote villages, are generally not well informed on maternal and child health (MCH) and lack tools to record their health. This lack of knowledge on MCH issues has led to a high risk of child and maternal mortality.
Towards a Solution
To address the above challenge, in 1994 the Government of Indonesia developed the Maternal and Child Health handbook, inspired by a similar practice in Japan, as a tool to inform parents about child care and to enhance the quality of healthcare services. The Handbook provides useful information for pregnant women and new parents, including illustrations and diagrams for those unable to read. It also provides information on family planning services, immunization, nutrition, child growth and development, congenital abnormalities, infant and young child feeding (IYCF), child protection, and a parenting guide for children with disabilities. Space is also provided for a complete health record of pregnancy, childbirth, immunizations and the child’s growth to promote communication between mothers and healthcare providers and to improve the quality of services. As of 2016, all provinces of Indonesia have used the Handbook. Overall, its use in Indonesia has contributed to bettering the health of mothers and children.
Drawing from the best practice in adapting the MCH Handbook, the Government of Indonesia and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reached an agreement to provide courses for other developing countries with similar challenges to learn more about technical issues on MCH Handbook implementation in their communities. This includes establishing pregnancy or lactation classes for mothers, obtaining sustainable community support, developing an integrated centre for MCH services and using the MCH Handbook on a daily basis.
The course will serve as a platform for sharing experience on MCH services in each country and for discussing strategies to expand and adapt the MCH Handbook through multi-stakeholder participation, either with local governments or in collaboration with other programmes and sectors. The course will enable participants to maximize the use and scope of impact of a similar handbook to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve child health. The project is an example of how a partnership can contribute both to child and maternal health and to the empowerment of women within the community, especially with regard to reproductive health.
This course is expected to increase participants’ knowledge, especially in terms of implementing strategies to strengthen MCH services through the use of the MCH Handbook, and to identify approaches to obtain local government, cross-sectoral and community support.
The course is currently conducted once a year under the three-year (2017-2019) framework of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries Programme. The Directorate of Family Health, Ministry of Health of the Government of Indonesia has been designated to implement the training, under the framework of a three-year (2017-2019) cooperation.
Eligible participants are programme officers in MCH sectors from developing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, who work on the MCH Programme for the Ministry of Health, local health offices or local health services. This course aims to share knowledge and experiences of MCH service officers in MCH Handbook implementation and its success in each country. It will also discuss the strategy for scaling up MCH service coverage through collaboration with related programmes.
At the end of this course, participants from Afghanistan, Kenya, the Philippines, Tajikistan and Thailand are expected to improve their knowledge and skills in integrated MCH services by using the MCH Handbook, as well as in planning cooperation with related programmes and sectors, including with local government involvement, the roles of legal frameworks, IT and the community for MCH Handbook implementation and sustainability. Bangladesh, Cameroon, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Uganda, and Viet Nam, have already completed training.