Policy Context

MNCH is explicitly mentioned in both the Development Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment and the Global Health Strategy. The Development Strategy highlights four priority areas for MNCH:

  • Strengthening maternal and child health services including nutrition improvements for reducing infant and maternal mortality rates;
  • Ensuring equal access of women and men to quality health services;
  • Promoting women’s empowerment in decision making on their health including sexual and reproductive health; and 
  • Developing medical human resources such as doctors, nurses and midwives, and consequently increasing the number of female health workers.

Similarly, in the Global Health Strategy, MNCH is highlighted as one of the priority areas for global health. Japan has traditionally viewed global health, including MNCH, as a crucial element of its ODA due to its commitment to promoting human security and UHC. Japan sees it as both a moral responsibility and a contribution to global stability and prosperity.

The contexts in which MNCH is mentioned in strategies or policy documents include: 

  • Universal health coverage: Japan sees MNCH as a crucial component of achieving UHC; 
  • Primary health care: Japan believes that MNCH should be integrated into primary health care systems in developing countries, and believes that improving MNCH can contribute significantly to strengthening overall health systems;
  • Women’s and girls’ health: Japan views MNCH as central to promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls; and
  • Rights: Japan also views MNCH as a human rights issue and is committed to supporting efforts to ensure that all women, newborns, and children have access to quality MNCH services. 

Japan's ODA for MNCH often integrates other relevant topics to achieve comprehensive health outcomes, such as:

  • Nutrition: Addressing malnutrition is considered essential to improving maternal and child health. In the Japanese context. Nutritional interventions might include providing adequate food supplies, promoting breastfeeding, and improving nutritional education;
  • WASH: Clean water, sanitation, and good hygiene practices are vital to prevent diseases that can impact maternal, newborn, and child health. Japan’s ODA often supports projects related to WASH in the context of MNCH; 
  • Infectious Diseases: Japan's assistance also links MNCH to the fight against infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, as these diseases can have a significant impact on maternal and child health; and
  • Education: Japanese ODA emphasizes the importance of girls' education in improving MNCH. Educated girls and women are more likely to access health services and make informed decisions about their health and the health of their children. 

How is Japan’s bilateral ODA to MNCH evolving?

Bilateral funding from Japan more than doubled in 2021. It is important to note that around US$100 million of Japan’s 2021 funding to MNCH came from a COVID-19 response-related loan to improve the implementation of health policies.

How does Japan allocate bilateral MNCH ODA?

The largest share of Japan’s allocable bilateral ODA in 2021 went to LMICs. This was due in large part to Japan’s focus on Asian countries. The largest funding to both maternal and newborn health and child health ODA in 2021 came from health policy and administrative management, followed by basic health infrastructure, and basic nutrition. This is in line with Japan’s general approach of funding interconnected global health issues through comprehensive health systems strengthening.

Key Bodies

How is ODA to MNCH calculated?

ODA to MNCH is estimated using the Muskoka2 methodology which estimates the proportion that each relevant OECD CRS purpose code contributes to reproductive health (RH), maternal and newborn health (MNH), and child health (CH). Disbursements that benefit MNCH were determined using CRS purpose codes for all donors except GAVI, UNFPA, and UNICEF, for which fixed percentages of disbursements were considered to benefit MNCH.

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