Measuring Coverage in MNCH

Content Type: Published articles
Author(s): Jennifer Bryce, Fred Arnold, Ann Blanc, Attila Hancioglu, Holly Newby, Jennifer Requejo, Tessa Wardlaw, the CHERG Working Group on Improving Coverage Measurement
Published: May 2013

Considerable progress has been made in reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality worldwide, but many more deaths could be prevented if effective interventions were available to all who could benefit from them. Timely, high-quality measurements of intervention coverage—the proportion of a population in need of a health intervention that actually receives it—are essential to support sound decisions about progress and
investments in women’s and children’s health. The PLOS Medicine ‘‘Measuring Coverage in MNCH’’ Collection of research studies and reviews presents systematic assessments of the validity of health intervention coverage measurement based on household surveys, the primary method for estimating population-level intervention coverage in low- and middle-income countries. In this overview of the Collection, we discuss how and why some of the indicators now being used to track intervention coverage may not provide fully reliable coverage measurements, and how a better understanding of the systematic and random error inherent in these coverage indicators can help in their interpretation and use. We draw together strategies proposed across the Collection for improving coverage measurement, and recommend continued support for high-quality household surveys at national and sub-national levels, supplemented by surveys with lighter tools that can be implemented every 1–2 years and by complementary health facility-based assessments of service quality. Finally, we stress the importance of learning more about coverage measurement to strengthen the foundation for assessing and improving the progress of maternal, newborn, and child health programs.


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