Providing Quality Care That Addresses Local Contexts Critical To Maternal, Newborn Health

Global Health NOW: Saving Lives at Birth Starts with Quality Care, Everywhere
Jacob Hughes, senior technical director and health systems practice lead for Management Sciences for Health

“…As the Lancet Commission [for High Quality Health Systems] report points out, increasing access to health services alone is not enough to achieve sustainable progress. In fact, contrary to the prevailing approach of urging women with low-risk pregnancies to give birth at the nearest clinic — which is often unprepared to effectively recognize and manage complications — the commission calls on health system managers to refer all deliveries to hospitals with the infrastructure and highly skilled staff needed to provide emergency surgery and specialized care. However, increasing deliveries in hospitals brings different challenges and risks. … Women might travel farther and spend more money for compassionate, safe care, but they shouldn’t be forced to travel for low-quality care. The millions of dollars and decades of hard work that the world has dedicated to maternal and newborn health delivered an obvious lesson: We can’t oversimplify and broadly apply maternal and newborn health blueprints across every setting. Women have a right to evidence-based, quality care that meets their needs, no matter where they live, and countries must find the will to provide it” (7/31).