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Quality, Not Quantity of Care for Maternal and Child Health

May 06, 2016

A version of this post by Sean Peoples originally appeared April 29, 2016 on the Wilson Center New Security Beat

It’s not about counting how many times a mother interacts with antenatal services or comes to the facility, but it’s what happens in these encounters that matters.

One month after the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the maternal and newborn health community met in Mexico City at the 2015 Global Maternal and Newborn Health Conference. The conference marked the first opportunity for health and development advocates to take stock of the successes and failures of the Millennium Development Goals and discuss a common strategy for implementing the maternal health targets of the SDGs.

Improving and measuring quality of care, and not only quantity, was a major focus. Such a “woman-centered” approach is best achieved with an integrated model of care – one that combines primary health care, family planning services and other entry points into the health system so women do not need to go to separate facilities for each. There is a very strong evidence base for why one should integrate care, integrate measurement, and quality delivery.

Since Mexico City, global partners have been gearing up to think more systematically about quality across the continuum, as well as a systems approach to quality and countries wanting to make that part of their broader national quality movement.

This is the first time that we have countries committed to actually reducing newborn mortality, and maternal and newborn mortality goals are included in the SDGs. And, with the Every Woman Every Child, a roadmap created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010, we have targets to monitor progress.

Next week, many in the global maternal and newborn health community will travel to Copenhagen for Women Deliver 2016. The conference is a chance to further capitalize on momentum around continuum of care and the integrated model laid out in Mexico City.

Staying focused on women, girls, mothers, and newborns will require a large effort. It’s not just the business of the health sector, but how do we get other sectors to also stay focused when we talk about women and girls?

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