WHO asks for commitments on maternal, newborn health

Every day, approximately 800 women and 6,700 babies lose their lives around the time of childbirth.

In addition, nearly 5,400 babies are stillborn daily, with 40 per cent of these deaths occurring in relation to labour and childbirth.

Highlighting those numbers, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged   healthcare facility managers, leaders and health workers around the globe to adopt a set of Five World Patient Safety Day Goals 2021,  to improve maternal and newborn safety.

The goals were launched at a virtual global conference on World Patient Safety Day, marked on Friday, with  the theme: “Safe Maternal and Newborn Care.

For WHO, with all the risks compounded by the disruption of services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign remained  even more important in 2021.

Most stillbirths, maternal and newborn deaths, were avoidable; as long as safe, respectful and quality care were received during pregnancy, childbirth and in the first days of life.

The new goals sought to improve maternal and newborn safety at the point of care, and to accelerate action toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Despite the progress made in reducing maternal and newborn mortality and illnesses since 1990, the world was far from achieving the targets laid out in the SDGs.

The SDGs prioritised maternal mortality reduction, asking for a global average maternal mortality target, of less than 70 per 100,000 live births. A further target was that no country should have a maternal mortality rate greater than 140 per 100,000 live births.

Some of the main objectives were to reduce unnecessary and harmful practices to women and newborns, strengthen capacity of – and support to – health workers, promote respectful care, improve safe use of medication and blood transfusion, and report and analyse safety incidents in childbirth.

A major reason for not achieving this target was a failure to address unsafe and poor-quality care.

Unsafe care included issues such as delayed and incorrect diagnosis, patient misidentification, medication errors, anesthesia and surgical errors; unsafe transfusion and injection practices; lack of infection control practices; unnecessary interventions and mistreatment.

WHO led and provided  global direction on patient safety through the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May.

World Patient Safety Day was established by the World Health Assembly in 2019. (NAN)