This paper critically explores how the concept of context is treated in debates on tackling the health-related aspects of the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Based on a twostage literature review, the arguments developed here identify intergenerational transmissions of poverty as both a key trajectory by which chronic poverty is entrenched across generations and also a significant challenge for attempts by the Millennium Development Goals to improve human capital and achieve the health-related MDG. Context (understood as socio-spatial as well as temporal and multi-scalar) emerges as highly relevant, both in terms of international policy, inter and intra country comparisons and individual positionality. Specific documents by the UN Millennium Project task Force on Child and Maternal Health and UK DFID are analysed more closely alongside other recent literature on MCH-related health systems. We conclude that context matters, and current policy frameworks need to go further in developing a more complex two-directional treatment of context.
Health Systems Development Programme working paper 11/06, 24 pp.