Impact of conditional cash transfers on maternal and newborn health

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Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Maternal and newborn health (MNH) is a high priority for global health and is included among the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, the slow decline in maternal and newborn mortality jeopardizes achievements of the targets of MDGs. According to UNICEF, 60 million women give birth outside of health facilities, and family planning needs are satisfied for only 50%. Further, skilled birth attendance and the use of antenatal care are most inequitably distributed in maternal and newborn health interventions in low- and middle-income countries. Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes have been shown to increase health service utilization among the poorest but little is written on the effects of such programmes on maternal and newborn health. We carried out a systematic review of studies on CCT that report maternal and newborn health outcomes, including studies from 8 countries. The CCT programmes have increased antenatal visits, skilled attendance at birth, delivery at a health facility, and tetanus toxoid vaccination for mothers and reduced the incidence of low birthweight. The programmes have not had a significant impact on fertility while the impact on maternal and newborn mortality has not been welldocumented thus far. Given these positive effects, we make the case for further investment in CCT programmes for maternal and newborn health, noting gaps in knowledge and providing recommendations for better design and evaluation of such programmes. We recommend more rigorous impact evaluations that document impact pathways and take factors, such as cost-effectiveness, into account.


PubMed ID: 24992803