Health Research Program

Since 1990, the world has seen a dramatic 44 percent reduction in maternal mortality. Despite this progress maternal mortality remains an urgent health crisis in many low and middle income countries.


Every year approximately 300,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and 99 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries.1 Many of these deaths are preventable. Simple interventions and skilled care before, during, and after childbirth can save lives. 

USAID’s Health Research Program seeks to reduce maternal mortality by collaborating closely with partner countries, community programs, and health facilities to apply research learnings that address critical health needs. USAID is continually employing its knowledge of program implementation to inform how interventions will be used and which interventions are most needed to inform research priorities. This integrated approach reduces gaps in access to care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In addition, the program expands evidence-based interventions for mothers and improves health outcomes for women. The Health Research Program seeks to do this by focusing on research related to illness recognition and careseeking, respectful maternity care, and performance-based incentives for quality of care.

To learn more about how the Health Research Program works to improve maternal health, please visit our project pages. You can also find more information about USAID’s overall efforts to  improve maternal health here.

1WHO Maternal Mortality Fact Sheet, updated November 2016