Countdown country profiles present in one place the best and latest evidence to assess country progress in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. The two-page profiles in this report are updated every two years with new data and analyses. Countdown has also committed to annually updating the core indicators selected by the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Reviewing the information

The first step in using the country profiles is to explore the range of data presented: demographics, mortality, coverage of evidence-based interventions, nutritional status and socioeconomic equity in coverage, and information on policies, health systems and financing. Key questions in reviewing the data include:

  • Are trends in mortality and nutritional status moving in the right direction? Is the country on track to achieve the health Millennium Development Goals?
  • How high is coverage for each intervention? Are trends moving in the right direction towards universal coverage? Are there gaps in coverage for specific interventions?
  • How equitable is coverage? Are certain interventions particularly inaccessible for the poorest segment of the population?
  • Are key policies and systems measures and adequate funding in place to bring coverage of key interventions to scale?

Identifying areas to accelerate progress

The second step in using the country profiles is to identify opportunities to address coverage gaps and accelerate progress in improving coverage and health outcomes across the continuum of care. Questions to ask include:

  • Are the coverage data consistent with the epidemiological situation? For example:
    • If pneumonia deaths are high, are policies in place to support community case management of pneumonia? Are coverage levels low for careseeking and antibiotic treatment for pneumonia, and what can be done to reach universal coverage? Are the rates of deaths due to diarrhoea consistent with the coverage levels and trends of improved water sources and sanitation facilities?
    • In priority countries for eliminating mother-to- child transmission of HIV, are sufficient resources being targeted to preventing mother-to-child transmission?
    • Does lagging progress on reducing maternal mortality or high newborn mortality reflect low coverage of family planning, antenatal care, skilled attendance at birth and postnatal care?
  • Do any patterns in the coverage data suggest clear action steps? For example, coverage for interventions involving treatment of an acute need (such as treatment of childhood diseases and childbirth services) is often lower than coverage for interventions delivered routinely through outreach or scheduled in advance (such as vaccinations). This gap suggests that health systems need to be strengthened, for example by training and deploying skilled health workers to increase access to care.
  • Do the gaps and inequities in coverage along the continuum of care suggest prioritizing specific interventions and increasing funding for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health? For example, is universal access to labour, delivery and immediate postnatal care being prioritized in countries with gaps in interventions delivered around the time of birth?