The World Health Organisation (WHO) has implored governments of developing countries to provide greater access to safe and effective healthcare services to prevent 8.4 million deaths annually.
In a statement on Tuesday, WHO said that between 5.7 million people and 8.4 million people die due to poor quality care in low and middle-income countries, accounting for up to 15 per cent of their overall deaths.
It said that lost productivity due to poor quality care in these countries was estimated to be around 1.4 trillion to 1.6 trillion dollars per year.
Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, WHO, said, “People not only need to have access to healthcare services, they need to have access to services that are safe and effective, where they are always treated with dignity and respect.
“Interventions to improve quality of healthcare are critical for achieving universal health coverage and equity, and reducing maternal and newborn deaths.”
The WHO director said that quality care was a critical issue for maternal and newborn health.
“More women globally give birth in health facilities than ever before, but this has not always translated into dramatic gains in survival rates for mothers and newborns.
“It is estimated that six in 10 neonatal conditions and half of maternal deaths in poorer countries are due to poor quality services,” the WHO official said.
He said that to be considered good quality, healthcare must be effective, safe, people-centred, timely, equitable, integrated and efficient.
“Therefore, quality healthcare systems need to be safe and effective, but also accountable and responsive.
” They need to listen to patients’ voices, to communities’ needs and wants, and respond to them.
“They need to treat people with dignity and respect, free from discrimination.
“And they need to ensure water, sanitation, hand hygiene, electricity and waste disposal so that health facilities are functional, reliable and safe,” Banerjee said.
The health agency stressed that having competent, well trained and supportive staff was essential, with plans in place to ensure the right staff were available at the right times.
He said that in 2017, 10 countries together with WHO and a coalition of partners, joined forces to establish the ‘Network for Improving Quality Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.’
It listed the countries as Nigeria, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
“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,” he said.
The WHO director advised network countries to align with strategic investments and increase domestic resources to strengthen the health systems foundations for quality care.
Banerjee emphasised the need to strengthen and scale up workforce competencies and capacities for quality care, support good quality data and health information systems.
He also advised countries to ensure systematic involvement of communities for accountability, and establish links with academic institutions to support the development and implementation of national learning platforms.