Maternal resilience : rethinking maternal health for the post-2015 sustainable development goals agenda
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September 2015 signals the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the upcoming special summit on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The fifth MDG (MDG 5), in particular, aims to improve maternal health by reducing maternal mortality rates by three-fourths and to achieve universal access to reproductive health care. MDG5 has progressed the least among the eight MDGs over the past 15 years. The 45% decline in global maternal mortality rates over the past two decades will not be sufficient to achieve MDG 5. With the summit on the post-2015 SDGs fast approaching, maternal health practitioners and researchers have a unique opportunity to rethink how we look at maternal health and the barriers to achieving progress. This professional report first explores some of limits and consequences of the MDG 5 framing of maternal health, critiquing the prominent use of maternal mortality as target and indicator. Then the report reviews extant literature that challenges us to consider the underlying cultural and behavioral drivers that affect maternal health. With no clear indication of the SDGs moving towards a better operationalization of maternal health, this report concludes by introducing maternal resilience as a new concept that can help foster a course correction towards a more comprehensive ecological-based framework to improve maternal health.