Mothers and Children: Designing research toward integrated care for both

Health, Culture and Society 3 (1):160-171 (2012)
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Abstract
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set time-bound targets that are powerful shapers of how and for whom health is pursued. In this paper we examine some ramifications of both the temporal limitation, and maternal-child health targeting of MDG 4 and 5. The 2015 end date may encourage increasing the number of mass campaigns to meet the specific MDG objectives, potentially to the detriment of a more comprehensive approach to health. We discuss some ethical, political, and pragmatic ramifications of this tendency, and show that these are not unique to the MDGs but rather have a long history in health policy debates. We also examine attempts to counter a narrow focus on vertical interventions in campaigns through integrated health system delivery platforms. We argue that the way forward is not to assume that evidence is value free, but rather to make explicit the political and ethical decisions in the design of metrics and evaluation research. We propose an index of five factors that should be included in research designed to inform decision making about providing interventions as part of routine services or periodic campaigns, toward serving more members of the population, and long-term strengthening of the health system via integrated health interventions.
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