WHO launched their Network to improve QoC for mothers and newborns in Malawi (14-16 Feb), with the ambitious goal of halving preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborns in the next 5 years. Prof Matthews Mathai and Dr Helen Smith represented CMNH as a technical partner to the Network, with in-country representation from the LSTM Malawi office (Boss Mwafulirwa) and two district health officers involved in our ongoing programme for quality improvement in Malawi.
The first day was a technical forum learning from countries, technical and funding partners and UN agencies about what works for quality of care and quality improvement. WHO took the opportunity to situate the Network within current global strategies for quality of care, and showcase their standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care published in 2016. Prof Mathai and Dr Smith facilitated a session on maternal death surveillance and response as an essential intervention for improving quality of care, sharing implementation lessons from 10 countries.
The Network was launched on day two, with representatives from nine countries signing up to the strategic objectives. What was obvious from the high level panel discussions involving ministry of health officials from each of the nine countries, was that significant progress is already being made. Directorates and national strategies for quality management and quality improvement exist in several countries, with some moving towards explicit governance systems to support quality of care. The mantra’s adopted on day 2 were ‘make haste slowly’, and ‘think big, start small’.
Day three focused on country planning and the monitoring and evaluation plans for the Network. Discussion centred on country adaptation of global approaches, scaling up what works, and realtime monitoring of progress across the nine countries. With this in mind the consensus from countries was that the Network should act as a learning platform, coordinating knowledge sharing and dissemination of ‘what works’ for quality improvement. In concluding the meeting and outlining the way forward, Dr Anthony Costello (Head of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO) boldly reminded us that with the Network’s grand and ambitious plan, we should remain vigilant and able to respond to adversity, since “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” (Mike Tyson).
In terms of CMNH’s input, we already work with four of the countries (India, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania) and so our priority going forward should be to ensure our programmes are aligned with the country roadmaps for this initiative as well as making sure we continue to work effectively with MoH and other partners in these countries.