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.
Uganda and eight other countries have committed to halving preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborns in their health facilities within the next 5 years.
The other countries are Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
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.
This Network aims to strengthen national efforts to end preventable deaths by 2030, as envisioned by the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.
Countries will do that for example, by strengthening capacity and motivation of health professional to plan and manage quality improvement, improving data collection and increasing access to medicines, supplies, equipment and clean water.
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, WHO said.
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.
The nine countries in the Network have committed to identifying the actions they will take to improve quality of care and will work with partners to deliver the vision of quality that encompasses values of equity and dignity.
To achieve this, governments will build and strengthen their national institutions, identify quality of care focal points at all levels of the health system, accelerate and sustain the implementation of quality-of-care improvement packages for mothers, newborns and children, and work with all groups involved to facilitate learning, knowledge sharing and accountability.