REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RESEARCH
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Report of a Technical Working Group
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations with primary responsibility for international health matters and public health. Through this organization, which was created in 1948, the health professions of some 189 countries exchange their knowledge and experience with the aim of making possible the attainment by all citizens of the world by the year 2000 of a level of health that will permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life.
By means of direct technical cooperation with its Member States, and by stimulating such cooperation among them, WHO promotes the development of comprehensive health services, the prevention and control of diseases, the improvement of environmental conditions, the development of health manpower, the coordination and development of biomedical and health services research, and the planning and implementation of health programmes.
These broad fields of endeavour encompass a wide variety of activities, such as developing systems of primary health care that reach the whole population of Member countries; promoting the health of mothers and children; combating malnutrition; controlling malaria and other communicable diseases including tuberculosis and leprosy; having achieved the eradication of smallpox, promoting mass immunization against a number of other preventable diseases; improving mental health; providing safe water supplies; and training health personnel of all categories.
Progress towards better health throughout the world also demands international cooperation in such matters as establishing international standards for biological substances, pesticides and pharmaceuticals; formulating environmental health criteria; recommending international non-proprietary names for drugs; administering the International Health Regulations; revising the International Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death; and collecting and disseminating health statistical information.
Further information on many aspects of WHO'S work is presented in the Organization's publications.
© World Health Organization 1998
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This document reports the outcomes of a technical consultation on the full range of issues relevant to the postpartum period for the mother and the newborn. The report takes a comprehensive view of maternal and newborn needs at a time which is decisive for the life and health both of the mother and her newborn. Taking women's own perceptions of their own needs during this period as its point of departure, the text examines the major maternal and neonatal health challenges, nutrition and breastfeeding, birth spacing, immunization and HIV/AIDS before concluding with a discussion of the crucial elements of care and service provision in the postpartum. The text ends with a series of recommendations for this critical but under-researched and under-served period of the life of the woman and her newborn, together with a classification of common practices in the postpartum into four categories: those which are useful, those which are harmful, those for which insufficient evidence exists and those which are frequently used inappropriately.