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Researchers call for greater efforts to improve maternal and newborn health through improving water, sanitation, and hygiene

Stronger integration between the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and health sectors will likely accelerate progress on improving maternal and newborn health (), according to a Policy Forum published by Yael Velleman of and sector colleagues in this week’s . In this article, the researchers issue a call for improving research integration between WASH and MNH, with representation from WaterAid, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University College London, the University of Aberdeen and The SoapBox Collaboration, BRAC and BRAC University, and Evidence for Action.

The researchers examine the evidence linking WASH and MNH and argue that global and national efforts to improve MNH should incorporate WASH, with improved monitoring of WASH in health facilities providing MNH services. Furthermore, they call for new research to identify effective interventions to improve WASH at home and in health facilities, and to impact on MNH in different health system contexts.

They say: “The post-2015 development framework is an opportunity for a stronger, more inter-sectoral response to the MNH challenge, and the goals and targets aimed at maximizing healthy lives and increasing access to quality health care should adequately embed WASH targets and success indicators.”

The authors are hosting a launch event for the paper on Monday 15th of December 2014 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM followed by a reception until 7:00 PM at the John Snow Lecture Theatre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to raise awareness for their call to action. The event will include speakers from the UK Department for International Development, WHO, The Soapbox Collaborative, PLOS Medicine, and WaterAid.


From Joint Thinking to Joint Action: A Call to Action on Improving Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Maternal and Newborn Health, Velleman Y, Mason E, Graham W, Benova L, Chopra M, et al., PLoS Med, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001771, published 12 December 2014.

This article was made possible with UK Aid from the Department of International Development (DFID) as part of the SHARE Research Consortium (www.SHAREresearch.org). However, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the Department’s official policies. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

VC has research funds and consultancies on public health from Wellcome, DFID, World Bank, Kimberly Clarke, Unilever, Comic Relief, and Go-Jo Industries.