While improving access to maternal and newborn health services is fundamental in reducing the global maternal and neonatal mortality ratios and meeting the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring quality care is an equally important aim.
The Maternal Health Innovations Fund, a project of the MHTF, recently supported several projects in collaboration with The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and Pakistan’s Agha Khan University (AKU) that examined ways to improve quality of care in low- and middle-income countries.
Icddr,b and AKU have published 10 knowledge briefs summarizing findings from their recent maternal health research that took place in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Southern Kyrgystan, and Pakistan. The knowledge briefs identify urgent needs in maternal health, highlight improvements in the field, and offer recommendations for addressing gaps in access, quality, and measurement of care based on the implementation research conducted under this project.
Three of the projects investigated solutions related to improving the quality of maternal and newborn care:
- Knowledge Exchange for Health Service Providers: This study in Bangladesh convened a health services provider club (HSP) consisting of maternal and neonatal health service providers in rural Shahjadpur. The HSP gathered for monthly refresher training sessions and developed an action plan to improve the quality of maternal newborn health services in the sub-district. Pre- and post-intervention research showed significant improvements in antenatal care and postnatal care services, as well as increased essential newborn care practices.
- Pregnancy, Delivery and Postpartum Care: This study utilized 26 ‘signal functions’ to assess the quality of obstetric and newborn care at six health facilities in Bangladesh.
- Childbirth Checklist: Researchers in Bangladesh found that the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist is a low-cost, effective tool that can improve quality of maternal and newborn health services and thereby increase uptake of facility-based services.