Many Newborn, Maternal Deaths Are Preventable – WHO
… Lists Postpartum Haemorrhage, Hypertensive Diseases, Sepsis, Premature Birth, Lack of Oxygen, Infections Among Causes of Death
It has been said that many maternal and newborn deaths could be prevented by making sure that patients feel safe, respected, ensuring that their needs are heard and acted on by equipping health workers with the knowledge, skills and tools to take life-saving actions.
This was made known by the World Health Organization, WHO’s Country Representative to Nigeria and Head of Mission, Walter Kazadi Mulombo.
Speaking on World Patient Safety Day 2021’s theme for this year; “safe maternal and new-born care” with a campaign to “act now for safe and respectful childbirth”, Mulombo stated that this is very apt as Nigeria continues efforts to ensure safe birth and reduce the high maternal and newborn mortality in the country.
He praised Government of Nigeria’s effort in establishing the Patient’s Bill of Right and efforts to develop a National Patient Safety Policy. “WHO is also providing support to Government of Nigeria to develop a national quality policy and strategy that will ensure quality of care provided to patients including pregnant women and their newborn babies.”
“NDHS 2018 shows that Nigeria has 512/100,000 livebirths and newborn mortality at 39 per 1000 livebirths. A similar picture is seen in the African Region, Africa accounts for nearly 7 out of 10 maternal deaths and 1 out of 3 newborn deaths globally.”
The major causes of death among pregnant women and mothers are postpartum haemorrhage, hypertensive diseases and sepsis. Among newborns, the top causes of death include premature birth, babies not getting enough oxygen during birth and infections.
He echoed the thoughts of the Regional Director, WHO AFRO Dr. Moeti Matshidiso that “many of these deaths could be prevented by making sure patients feel safe, respected and that their needs are heard and acted on, and by equipping the health workers with the knowledge, skills and tools to take life-saving action”.
We need to do everything to stop the preventable deaths by ensuring our health facilities provide high quality, safe and effective healthcare.
“Women are confronted with a range of challenges as patients. They often times face physical and verbal abuse, and exclusion from decision-making about their care. For instance, during childbirth, most of our healthcare settings are not set up to allow for pregnant women to have their choice of having a birth companion present or to deliver in their preferred birthing position. New-born rights to quality care for example, largely go unprotected.”
The situation was made worse during the pandemic, some people have avoided seeking care in health facilities, for fear of catching COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. To combat this hesitancy, health systems need to work on building community trust and invest more in good infection prevention and control practices.
“These include investing in access to clean water, sanitation and medical waste disposal systems, doing regular refresher training with health workers, and making sure sufficient quantities of gloves, masks and other protective equipment are available.”
In addition, he advised that care should be provided with compassion and respect by health workers with the skills to succeed, and in clean and safe environments that prevent the spread of infections.
“WHO is working with countries to make this happen by implementing the WHO Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030.”
“In the past 3 years, WHO has been providing technical support to government as part of the WHO-led Quality, Equity and Dignity (QED) network with the aim of halving maternal and newborn mortality by 2030.
According to him, so far, 112 Health facilities across 12 states and FCT are on the network with the support of WHO and other development partners. “There have been demonstrable results in not just reducing maternal and newborn mortality but also improving the experience of care of mothers when they access care in health facilities. WHO is supporting government to enlarge this intervention to private sector with an a recent scoping mission on mechanism for engagement of private sector for QOC.”
“By engaging patients as partners in the provision of quality care, health systems will make tangible progress towards Universal Health Coverage; the voice of patients and their feedbacks must matter in healthcare provision. There is need for more investment to ensure we not only save lives of women and children, but also to improve their experience of healthcare. This will birth trust in the system and could in turn improve the health seeking behaviour of the populace.”
He therefore encouraged all stakeholders – governments, civil society, the private sector, health workers and communities – to speak up for patient safety and to act now for safe and respectful childbirth.
World Patient Safety Day is celebrated every year on 17 September, to raise awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.