Launch of Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

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Originally posted on PMNCH.

Today, Malawi joined forces with national governments from nine countries to establish a Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The Network unites first wave countries (Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda) with a high-level political commitment, leadership and readiness for improving quality of care. The aim of the Network is to halve maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths in participating health facilities in five years. It also aims to operationalise a common vision for Quality of Care —‘Every mother and newborn receives quality care throughout the pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal periods —through coordinated actions and investments among all stakeholder groups and constituencies.

The meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Health of Malawi brought together partners in support of the Every Woman Every Child movement and the implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. Participants from the nine countries, regional and global organizations issued a statement committing: to work under a common a vision where every woman, newborn and child receives high quality care and is met with respect and dignity.

In his key note address, Dr Peter Kumpalume, the Honourable Minister of Health, made a pledge to “do everything possible to support this network and promote equity, quality and dignity.” Underlining the importance of the network he said, “this network clearly testifies that quality is everyone’s responsibility…we are committed as leaders of health institutions to improve the quality of care and we will not stop or allow mediocrity in making decisions aimed at improving health outcomes for people regardless of their locality, race, gender and socio-economic status”.

While the past two decades have been marked by substantive progress in reducing maternal and child deaths, progress has often been slow to reach those who need it most. Provision of quality care is uneven, often failing to respect the rights and dignity of those who seek it. This hinders health outcomes for women, children and communities, and impedes progress in ending preventable deaths by 2030, as envisioned by the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

From left to right: Eugene Nyarko, WHO Malawi Country Representative; Helga Fogstad, Executive-Director, PMNCH
Credits: ©WHO/Gumulira

The Quality, Equity, Dignity (QED) effort, through the Quality of Care Network, unites and builds on the technical and advocacy work of the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) as well as the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) groups. PMNCH partners have played a significant role in both efforts, and will be highly engaged in the QED effort.

“This Global network to improve the Quality of Care for mothers, newborn and children will be a catalyst for building resilient health systems across the world,” noted Mrs Chimwemwe Banda, Acting Secretary for Health, in her remarks. “It will provide a platform for ensuring that the quality improvement activities become an integral part of health care delivery that is in line with new developments and global best practices”.

Earlier this year, WHO published standards for improving the quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities, within the context of strengthening health systems and people-centred care. Partners, led by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, hope the Network will facilitate sharing of best practices on quality of care improvement, agreeing on an evidence- based framework for coordinated action, and developing country roadmaps for improving quality of care in the nine countries.

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