In 2017 10 countries – Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania – together with WHO and a coalition of partners, joined forces to establish the Network for Improving Quality Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
These countries committed to halving maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths and to improving the experience of care for pregnant women, mothers and their babies in health facilities within five years. For this, the Network countries are following the strategic objectives of: Leadership, Action, Learning and Accountability.
A new WHO report, launched on May 4, 2021 - the Quality of Care Network report: Evolution, Implementation and Progress 2017-2020 - provides a critical and timely account of how countries are progressing in achieving the Network goals, and identifies critical levers of change that need to be considered by countries interested in implementing quality care at scale.
Emerging lessons from implementation
The Network has provided a powerful platform for collaboration and learning across programmes and countries. The report calls for a number of critical levers to help cement and expand gains including the need for strong partnerships and investment to deliver quality care.
- It takes a whole health system to improve Quality of Care
- Government leadership and long-term commitment is a prerequisite for success
- Quality of Care requires dedicated and sustained investment and partnership
- Health systems operate in different contexts which impact the pace of Quality of Care development, adaptation and implementation
- Building Quality Improvement capabilities is necessary for sustaining the provision of Quality of Care
- Designing, implementing and monitoring a comprehensive and adaptable Quality of Care programme at the district or sub-national levels is critical
- Documenting and sharing lessons from Quality of Care initiatives can help build more effective programmes and it requires trust
- A facilitated network offers a valid platform for rapid South-South learning and accelerated progress in QoC
- Engaging communities and stakeholders in designing and implementing Quality of Care for MNH programmes paves the way to progress and ensures accountability for Quality of Care
- Investing early and intentionally in the development and strengthening of data systems for quality of care is essential
- Demonstrating impact of Quality Improvement activities takes time
In addition, network countries are encouraged to:
- Align strategic investments and increase domestic resources to strengthen the health systems foundations for quality care
- Strengthen and scale up workforce competencies and capacities for quality care
- Support good quality data and health information systems
- Ensure the systematic involvement of communities for accountability
- Establish links with academic institutions to support the development and implementation of national learning platforms
- Strengthen sub-national capacities within countries and across programmes