Day One of the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013: Improving Quality of Care

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Today marks the first day of the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania!

Over the next three days, stay tuned to the MHTF Blog for conference updates and recaps. We will be sharing posts from the Maternal Health Task Force team as well as our team of guest bloggers. Our guest bloggers include conference panelists and participants as well as colleagues from various health and development organizations who are tuning in to the live-stream from all around the globe.

In addition to staying tuned to the MHTF Blog, you can also follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag: #GMHC2013. The first day of the conference certainly elicited a robust dialogue on Twitter about a number of issues relating to global maternal health–including the ethics of research, authorship, and publishing on maternal health issues in low-income countries; the connections between evidence and policy change; the power of qualitative research; maternal health commodities; the potential need for a journal of negative findings; approaches to quality improvement; and much more. Take a look here.

More about the conference and the focus on quality of care:

Throughout the conference planning process—from developing the general concept to building the detailed conference program—the goal for the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013 has been to provide a neutral platform for robust scientific dialogue about how to improve the quality of maternal health care around the world. The process of planning the conference has confirmed that quality of care is an area of great concern and importance in the field. In fact, the conference organizers received roughly 2000 abstract submissions in the weeks following the call for abstracts!

In recent years, a number of high-profile programs have taken various approaches to increasing access to emergency obstetric care, and several with a fair amount of success. But, major questions remain around what happens once the women actually reach the facility. In India, for example, the JSY conditional cash transfer scheme has led to significant increases in institutional deliveries across the country—but less has been done to evaluate and improve the quality of care within the facilities.

The GMHC2013 was designed as a technical meeting for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to share knowledge, network, and build on progress toward eradicating preventable maternal mortality and morbidity—by taking a closer look at issues of quality.

This meeting comes at a critical time, with the MDG deadline just around the corner. The global health community is facing big questions about what sort of development goals or framework will follow the MDGs and whether resources will be allocated to or diverted away from maternal health.

Key elements of GMHC2013 to highlight:

  • Overall focus on quality of care
  • Special attention to the connections between research and action, urban health, and respectful care
  • Sessions that explore research, programs, policies, and creative approaches to expanding access to information—and most importantly, how each of these sub-fields builds on the next
  • A neutral platform for robust scientific dialogue
  • Inclusion of a wide variety of voices—including new voices as well as celebrated champions, voices from varying institutions and geographic regions, voices of MNCH experts as well as those working in allied fields
  • A commitment to nurturing the next generation of maternal health leaders
  • A space for those committed to improving maternal health globally to come together to share ideas, build on momentum, and refresh their sense of being part of a movement that is capable of achieving real and lasting improvements in the health of women around the world

Another primary goal of the meeting is to provide as much access to the ideas, innovations, research, policies, and programs presented in the sessions as possible. The organizers are working to achieve this goal in several ways. First, nearly 300 scholarships for colleagues from low-resource settings have been provided–and recent metrics show that conference participants represent 56 countries. Second, the conference is fully bilingual (English and French). And, third, plenary sessions are being live-streamed and all conference sessions are being recorded and hosted on a fully open-access platform.

Check back here later in the day for a recap of day one of GMHC2013!