Intended for healthcare professionals

Making multisectoral collaboration work

Analysis of factors that contribute to progress in reducing maternal and child mortality suggests that action from sectors beyond health have a profound influence. Recognition of the value of collaboration between sectors is embedded in the sustainable development goal (SDG) targets, with SDG 17 in particular highlighting the importance of multistakeholder partnerships to achieve the goals. However, there is little formal understanding of the general principles that contribute to effective multisectoral collaboration for health.

This collection of articles includes twelve country case studies, each an evaluation of multisectoral collaboration in action at scale on women’s, children’s, and adolescent’s health. Each case study relates to one or more of the key thematic priorities from Every Woman Every Child initiative, with diverse country income levels and regions reflected across the series. Collectively these twelve studies inform an overarching synthesis and accompanying commentaries, drawing together lessons learned in achieving effective multisectoral collaboration.

These articles, launched at the Partners' Forum 2018, aim to provide insights and ideas that will inform the evolving evidence base on effective multisectoral action.

Editorial introduction:

Multisectoral collaboration for health and sustainable development
Wendy J Graham and colleagues discuss learning together, from success and from failure

Synthesis paper:

Business not as usual: how multisectoral collaboration can promote transformative change for health and sustainable development
Shyama Kuruvilla and colleagues present findings across 12 country case studies of multisectoral collaboration, showing how diverse sectors intentionally shape new ways of collaborating and learning, using “business not as usual” strategies to transform situations and achieve shared goals

Case studies:

Adolescent health and wellbeing:

Adolescent girls’ nutrition and prevention of anaemia: a school based multisectoral collaboration in Indonesia
Marion Roche and colleagues highlight lessons from a multisectoral project implementing weekly iron supplementation for adolescent girls in West Java, Indonesia, which provides a scalable model for reducing anaemia

Voices for Healthy Kids: a multisectoral collaboration to accelerate policy changes that promote healthy weight for all children and adolescents in the United States
Emily Callahan and colleagues report how a multisectoral collaboration of more than 140 stakeholder organisations is advancing policy changes to improve food and physical environments in the United States to promote healthy weight for all children and adolescents

Early childhood development:

Scaling up an early childhood development programme through a national multisectoral approach to social protection: lessons from Chile Crece Contigo
Helia Molina Milman and colleagues describe how intersectoral collaboration between health, social protection, and education sectors enabled Chile Grows with You (Chile Crece Contigo) to help all children reach their full developmental potential

Improving psychosocial services for vulnerable families with young children: strengthening links between health and social services in Germany
llona Renner and colleagues describe cross-sectoral collaborative efforts in Germany to enhance the skills of parents to care for young children

Empowerment of women, girls, and communities:

Making the health system work by and for Indigenous women in Guatemala: a community led multisectoral collaboration
Claudia Nieves Velásquez and colleagues report how a community led national alliance of Indigenous women’s organisations is working to improve the delivery of healthcare for Indigenous women through collaboration with other community based organisations, government (health and ombudsman), and international partners

Tackling HIV by empowering adolescent girls and young women: a multisectoral, government led campaign in South Africa
Hasina Subedar and colleagues describe the intersectoral collaboration enabling She Conquers, a three year national campaign rolled out across South Africa, to tackle the multiple drivers of the high rates of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women

Humanitarian and fragile settings:

Redesigning an education project for child friendly radio: a multisectoral collaboration to promote children’s health, education, and human rights after a humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone
Sarah Barnett and colleagues describe how an educational project was rapidly adapted into a radio education programme after the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone

Scaling up primary health services for improving reproductive, maternal, and child health: a multisectoral collaboration in the conflict setting of Afghanistan
Jai Das and colleagues present an innovative and evolutionary model of multistakeholder and multisectoral collaboration in scaling up coverage of health services in Afghanistan

Quality, equity, and dignity:

IDPoor: a poverty identification programme that enables collaboration across sectors for maternal and child health in Cambodia
Mary White Kaba and colleagues describe how Cambodia’s national poverty identification system, IDPoor, has provided a nexus for different sectors’ contributions to maternal and child
health among the poor

Improving vaccination coverage in India: lessons from Intensified Mission Indradhanush, a cross-sectoral systems strengthening strategy
Vandana Gurnani and colleagues report an analysis from the Intensified Mission Indradhanush strategy in India, showing that cross-sectoral participation can contribute to improved vaccination coverage of children at high risk

Sexual and reproductive health and rights:

Human papillomavirus immunisation of adolescent girls: improving coverage through multisectoral collaboration in Malaysia
Saidatul Buang and colleagues report on collaborative efforts to introduce HPV vaccination in Malaysia and increase coverage

Scaling up a health and nutrition hotline in Malawi: the benefits of multisectoral collaboration
Carla Blauvelt and colleagues describe a multisectoral collaboration that enabled the scale up of a health advice telephone service and its transition to government in Malawi


Transformative change takes leadership, partnerships, and multisectoral collaboration
Shri J P Nadda and Nikolai Astrup discuss how investment in systems to promote collaboration is vital for health

To achieve the SDG health goals we need to recognise the goals and outcomes of other sectors
Tobias Alfvén, Agnes Binagwaho, and Måns Nilsson call for multisectoral collaboration to become the “new normal”

These articles are part of a series proposed by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) hosted by the World Health Organization and commissioned by The BMJ, which peer reviewed, edited, and made the decisions to publish these articles. Article handling fees (including printing, distribution, and open access fees) are funded by PMNCH.

The series was launched at the 2018 PMNCH Partners’ Forum in December 2018, bringing together 1,200 partners dedicated to the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement and the achievement of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.