Our focus is on changing behaviours related to reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH). We work along the ‘continuum of care’ for mothers and children, from pre-pregnancy to delivery, the immediate postnatal period, and childhood. This includes a focus on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, family planning and child marriage. We also work on wider health issues (including neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and road safety) where there is an opportunity to improve health outcomes through behaviour change.

Our focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health

5.9 million children worldwide die under the age of five every year. In 2014 one in 12 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before their fifth birthday. Meanwhile, maternal mortality rates remain stubbornly high in many countries.

The pie chart on the right shows the main causes of death among children under five worldwide (mouse over segments to view each cause).

Many of the health interventions that can reduce maternal and child mortality (such as exclusive breastfeeding, treatment of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, and giving birth in a health facility)* are highly dependent on the actions of parents and other members of the community. Mass media campaigns that can change behaviours can help millions of people to provide or access these interventions, thus saving many thousands of lives.


Our proactive focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (and on the continuum of care) has two drivers. The first is that reducing preventable maternal and child deaths is an urgent global health priority**; very few countries are on track to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 (reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds) and 5 (reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters). The second is that well designed and executed mass media campaigns are uniquely well placed to reduce the number of preventable maternal and child deaths, by educating parents and helping them to adopt behaviours that improve the health, and thus the survival prospects, of themselves and their children. Changing any set of behaviours is challenging, but we believe that behaviours directly related to maternal and child survival can be changed more easily than those related to sexual health or to lifestyle (diet, exercise and smoking). 

We are currently designing health behaviour change campaigns to reduce maternal and child mortality in a range of African countries, and are looking for partners and funders through our Media Million Lives initiative.


Mapping child mortality around the world

We have published a map showing the distribution of child deaths around the world and by cause. The map, based on data published by Countdown to 2015, calculates the total number of deaths per year per cause and country and then displays them in a random order based on their frequency. Click on the image below to view the map.


Multi-issue campaigns and the continuum of care

Because our campaigns focus on a range of health issues, rather than on single ‘vertical’ topics, we can impact a wide range of policy priorities along the continuum of care, without losing impact in any single area. For example, campaigns designed around child mortality can also reduce neonatal mortality and maternal mortality by promoting the benefits of giving birth in a health centre and of improved nutrition.

The pages below provide more detailed information on the impact of mass media campaigns in changing behaviours around specific health issues within (and around) the RMNCH continuum of care.

Family planning | Maternal survivalNewborn survival | Child survival | Nutrition | Hygiene | Neglected tropical diseases


* For more information about priority interventions, refer to PMNCH Essential Interventions, Millions Saved and Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries.

** Key international initiatives related to maternal and child health include Every Woman Every Child, the Every Newborn Action PlanA Promise Renewed, Acting on the Call, the UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children, and the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa