Obstetrician and global maternal and newborn health expert, Dr. Dilys Walker of University of California at San Francisco and Ph.D. student, Carolyn Smith Hughes, co-authored an op-ed in Devex on the secondary consequences of COVID-19 on maternal and neonatal health service delivery demand and delivery. Dr. Walker serves as global technical lead for the HEARD Partnership’s woman-centered care portfolio of implementation science activities. They write:

“Today, pregnant women, new mothers, newborns, and young children face a potentially deadly paradox: Receiving essential medical care may put them at risk for COVID-19, but they could also be endangering their health if they do not receive care. If they do decide to seek care, they often face health care systems in danger of collapsing under the strain of a pandemic. This is especially true in low- and middle-income countries where maternal and newborn mortality remains unacceptably high.”

Their work has identified many of the challenges low- and middle-income countries are facing in the wake of COVID-19. In spite of these challenges, Walker and Smith Hughes remain resolute, offering myriad solutions and opportunities for innovation and challenging the global development sector to rise to the occasion. They conclude: “We must invest our time, energy, and resources into designing solutions that can mitigate the consequences of the pandemic, build resilient systems, and catalyze lasting change — change that finally welcomes newborns and new moms alike with the high-quality care they deserve.”

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