Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, have committed to halving preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborns in their health facilities within the next 5 years.
Through a new Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, supported by WHO, UNICEF and other partners, the countries will work to improve the quality of care mothers and babies receive in their health facilities.
“Every mother and infant deserves to receive the highest quality of care when they access health facilities in their communities,” says Dr Anthony Costello, director, WHO Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health.
The period around childbirth is the most critical for saving mothers and newborns, and preventing stillbirths. Every year, worldwide, 303 000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, 2.7 million babies die during the first 28 days of life and 2.6 million babies are stillborn. Most of these deaths could be prevented with quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.
However, the provision of care is uneven within and between countries, and often fails to respect the rights and dignity of those who seek it.
“Births in health facilities have increased in the past decade,” says Dr Costello. “Attention is now shifting from access to care to improving the quality of care so that countries can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030.”
Utilizing WHO’s Standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities, published in 2016, countries within the Network will work to improve both the provision of, and patients’ experience of health care. The eight new standards provide a quality of care framework which will help countries ensure their services are safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and people-centred.
Under WHO standards, the health facilities should have competent and motivated health professionals and the availability of essential resources, such as clean water, medicines, equipment, supplies and proper waste management. They also need functional referral systems between levels of care, access to functioning ambulances for emergency transportation, and information systems that collect adequate patient records, register births and deaths, and facilitate routine audits.
Additionally, the standards help countries ensure no women or newborn is subjected to unnecessary or harmful practices during labour, childbirth or the early postnatal period. It ensures all patients are given privacy and that their confidentiality is respected.
Story courtesy of WHO