The Future of Maternal and Child Health
The purpose of this commentary is to start a national conversation about the future of maternal and child health (MCH). In the coming decades, we will have unprecedented opportunities to improve MCH, but will also face unprecedented threats.
This paper examines emerging opportunities and threats to MCH, and discusses strategies for leading the future of MCH.
Scientific advancements will continue to drive improvements in MCH, but to unleash its full potential for improving population health future MCH research must become more transdisciplinary, translational, and precise. Technological innovations could dramatically transform our work in MCH while big data could enhance predictive analytics and precision health; our challenge will be to assure equitable access. The greatest gains in MCH will continue to come from improving social conditions, which will require advancing MCH in all policies. Climate change, infectious outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance pose increasing threats to MCH, which can be averted by reducing global warming, implementing global early warning systems, and instituting responsible antimicrobial stewardship. The growing burden of chronic diseases in children and adults need to be addressed from an ecological and life course perspective. The water crisis in Flint shined a spotlight on the growing health threats from America’s decaying infrastructure.
We can lead the future of MCH by starting a national conversation, improving MCH research, and preparing future MCH workforce, but the future of MCH will depend on our effectiveness in bringing about social and political change in the coming decades.
KeywordsFuture of maternal and child health Life course Technology Innovation Precision Health Big data Climate change Infectious outbreaks Antimicrobial resistance Chronic diseases Infrastructure Social inequality Research Workforce Health in All policies
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