August 20, 2016

Setting the Standard—Quality, Equity and Dignity for Every Newborn and Woman

Written by Baby Science Live Coverage Team

In efforts to reduce child mortality, newborn survival is a game changing area of impact; of the 8.2 million under-five child deaths per year worldwide, about 3.3 million occur during the neonatal period in the first four weeks of life. As child mortality fell during the Millennium Development Goals, newborn mortality remained stagnate. In the 2014 Every Newborn Series from The Lancet we learned from the scientific community just how much impact we could have if we put evidence-based solutions into action for newborn survival. At the heart of action for newborn survival is the care that a newborn receives. Led by the WHO and the Every Newborn Action Plan, Dr. Antony Costello called for the global community to move beyond care to care with quality, equity and dignity.

As the strides of success grow in newborn care, there’s the opportunity to dig deeper into how we can accelerate progress for the good of every newborn and mother, everywhere. With an increase in the number of facility births, the emphasis on developing quality care standards is more necessary than ever. This year, the World Health Organization launched the Global Initiative to Improve Quality Care for Mothers and Newborns. The Initiative released the WHO “Standards for Improving Quality Maternal and Newborn Care in Health Facilities,” this month recognizing the most crucial time period for ending preventable newborn and maternal deaths—childbirth. As the Standards reaffirm, WHO’s vision is to see a world where, “every pregnant woman and newborn receives high-quality care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.”

Here at the International Congress on Pediatrics, WHO’s Dr. Antony Costello shared why with these greater standards, the WHO isn’t holding anything back. To see standards realized, they must be country led. Quoting the famed ‘philosopher’ Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” Costello warns that every country, from high to low income, has work to do to realize quality maternal and newborn care. And with the growing body of evidence on the gaps in quality care, we cannot hold anything back in the implementation of quality care standards, clinic by clinic, to realize safer, healthier facilities for women and children.

We cannot stop at quality; Costello urged the IPA, “quality care is an amazing opportunity for action.” He linked three major attributes to why we need action on care now—quality, equity and dignity. Lack of quality in care denies women the chance to give birth and heal with dignity. The inequity of quality care puts the world’s newest citizens at a disadvantage from their first breath. As the leaders in care, pediatricians are the first line and change agents for achieving quality care. Working together to share best practices, solutions and ideas this week at IPA 2016, is a crucial step to realizing care with quality, equity and dignity for all.