Maternal and child health issues have gained global political attention and resources in the past 10 years, due in part to their prominence on the Millennium Development Goal agenda and the use of evidence-based advocacy by policy networks. This paper identifies key factors for this achievement, and raises questions about prospective challenges for sustaining attention in the transition to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, far broader in scope than the Millennium Development Goals. This paper relies on participant observation methods and document analysis to develop a case study of the behaviours of global maternal and child health advocacy networks during 2005–2015. The development of coordinated networks of heterogeneous actors facilitated the rise in attention to maternal and child health during the past 10 years. The strategic use of epidemiological and economic evidence by these networks enabled policy attention and promoted network cohesion. The time-bound opportunity of reaching the 2015 Millennium Development Goals created a window of opportunity for joint action. As the new post-2015 goals emerge, networks seek to sustain attention by repositioning their framing of issues, network structures, and external alliances, including with networks that lay both inside and outside of the health domain. Issues rise on global policy agendas because of how ideas are constructed, portrayed and positioned by actors within given contexts. Policy networks play a critical role by uniting stakeholders to promote persuasive ideas about policy problems and solutions. The behaviours of networks in issue-framing, member-alignment, and strategic outreach can force open windows of opportunity for political attention -- or prevent them from closing.
McDougall, L. (2016). Discourse, ideas and power in global health policy networks: Political attention for maternal and child health in the millennium development goal era. Globalization and Health, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-016-0157-9