An estimated 289,000 maternal deaths, 2.6 million stillbirths and 2.4 million newborn deaths occur globally each year, with the majority occurring around the time of childbirth. The medical and surgical interventions to prevent this loss of life are known, and most maternal and newborn deaths are in principle preventable. There is a need to build the capacity of health-care providers to recognize and manage complications during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period. Skills-and-drills competency-based training in skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric care and early newborn care (EmONC) is an approach that is successful in improving knowledge and skills. There is emerging evidence of this resulting in improved availability and quality of care. To evaluate the effectiveness of EmONC training, operational research using an adapted Kirkpatrick framework and a theory of change approach is needed. The Making It Happen programme is an example of this.
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