Assessing the quality of facility-based maternal and new born care during COVID-19

on 05 January 2022

A study has investigated the quality of facility-based maternal and new born care (QMNC) during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across 12 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region.

21,027 mothers, who gave birth between 1 March 2020 and 15 March 2021, participated in the survey-based research that included 40 WHO Quality Standard-based Quality Measures.

The findings showed that 41.8% of women who experienced labour had difficulties in accessing antenatal care, and 62% were not allowed a companion of choice with them.

34.4% reported that health workers were not always using protective personal equipment (PPE), and 31.1% felt they had received inadequate breastfeeding support.

An episiotomy was performed in 21.8% of spontaneous vaginal births and fundal pressure applied in 41.2% of instrumental vaginal births.

23.9% of women felt they were not treated with dignity, 12.5% said they suffered abuse, and 2.4% said they made informal payments.

Of the findings, women who underwent a prelabour caesarean section reported the most negative experiences.

Following analysis, Croatia, Romania and Serbia showed significantly lower QMNC Indexes, with Luxembourg showing a significantly higher QMNC Index overall.

Young mothers and those who underwent operative births also reported significantly low QMNC Indexes.

From the findings, researchers saw large disparities in QMNC across the 12 countries in the WHO European Region that were analysed.

Researchers recommend that “Quality improvement initiatives to reduce these inequities and promote evidence-based, patient-centred respectful care for all mothers and newborns during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond are urgently needed.”

The study was published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe journal. The research can be accessed here.

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