Journal Article

New dialogue for the way forward in maternal health: Addressing market inefficiencies

Despite notable progress in Millennium Development Goal (MDG) five, to reduce maternal deaths three-quarters by 2015, deaths due to treatable conditions during pregnancy and childbirth continue to concentrate in the developing world. Expanding access to three effective and low-cost maternal health drugs can reduce preventable maternal deaths, if available to all women. However, current failures in markets for maternal health drugs limit access to lifesaving medicines among those most in need. In effort to stimulate renewed action planning in the post-MDG era, we present three case examples from other global health initiatives to illustrate how market shaping strategies can scale-up access to essential maternal health drugs. Such strategies include: sharing intelligence among suppliers and users to better approximate and address unmet need for maternal health drugs, introducing innovative financial strategies to catalyze otherwise unattractive markets for drug manufacturers, and employing market segmentation to create a viable and sustainable market. By building on lessons learned from other market shaping interventions and capitalizing on opportunities for renewed action planning and partnership, the maternal health field can utilize market dynamics to better ensure sustainable and equitable distribution of essential maternal health drugs to all women, including the most marginalized.