Re-Visioning Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Indicators

Integrating human-centered design approaches in the global process to redefine indicators used to track progress in reducing maternal mortality and to plan lifesaving obstetric services.
Columbia University’s Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program

For over 20 years, The Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) Indicators have been used around the world to track progress in reducing maternal mortality, as well as to provide data for planning lifesaving obstetric services. These indicators are used in more than 50 countries and include measures such as availability of appropriate facilities, utilisation of facilities by women, and quality of care. Given global changes in obstetric and newborn care, including increasing use of services and advances in clinical science and data technology, the UN and partners are leading a global process to review, revise, and rethink the indicators. The process emphasizes an outcome of indicators that provide data for national and sub-national decision-makers to adequately plan for obstetric and newborn care in the coming years. 

Scope is working with the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the EmONC steering committee to integrate human-centered design (HCD) methods within the “Review, Revise, Rethink” process for EmONC indicators. Other steering committee partners include WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF,  and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In addition, we are facilitating the involvement of workstreams and country teams in conducting the review process, as well as national policymakers and implementers for whom the final product is intended. 

Integrating HCD into the review process will provide partners with a deeper understanding of national policymakers’ and implementers’ perspectives, as well as supporting them in their efforts to rethink previous assumptions and revise standards based on current global and national contexts. Using design methods and tools will also facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and co-creation with the diverse range of partner organisations involved. In addition, the approach will provide partners with opportunities to rapidly test and iterate the proposed indicators and supporting guides and tools in early stages before advancing them to a wider scale.

Beyond revising the EmONC standards, our approach emphasises partners’ learning of HCD methods and principles along the way.  By building partners’ skills and knowledge of HCD, the project aims to enable them to apply these collaborative design methods to future programmes.


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