Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

What is the Quality of Care Network?

A nurse helps a new mother to breastfeed in Viet Nam.
UNICEF/T. Viet Hung

The Quality of Care Network is a network for improving quality of care for maternal, newborn and child health.

While the rate of skilled care during childbirth has increased from 58% in 1990 to 73% in 2013, mostly due to increases in facility-based births, giving birth in a health facility does not equate with a safe birth. WHO estimates that 303 000 mothers and 2.7 million newborn infants die annually around the time of childbirth, and many more are affected by preventable illness.

Broadening the focus from ACCESS to care to include QUALITY of care

Broadening the focus from access to care to include quality of care, WHO and UNICEF are launching a Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health to cut preventable maternal and newborn illness and deaths, and to improve every mother’s experience of care.

The Network sets out to achieve a vision where every pregnant woman and newborn infant receives good quality care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. It will look at quality of care both in the way it is delivered by health workers, and experienced by patients. The Network is underpinned by the values of quality, equity and dignity and supports the targets of Every Woman Every Child’s (EWEC) Global Strategy.

What are the goals of the Network?

  • Reduce maternal and newborn mortality in health facilities in target country districts by 50% over five years and to halve intra-partum stillbirths;
  • Reduce avoidable morbidity targeting a 50% reduction in severe post-partum haemorrhage and of neonatal sepsis;
  • Improve experience of care.

What will the Network do?

  • Focus on national leadership by strengthening national and district governance quality of care structures, and helping develop national plans and advocacy strategies for improving quality of care.
  • Accelerate action by adapting and adopting WHO’s eight Standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities at country level, creating national packages of quality improvement interventions and develop, strengthen and sustain clinical and managerial capabilities to support quality of care improvement.
  • Foster learning and generate evidence on quality of care through a Learning Platform - a community of health practitioners from around the world co-developing and sharing knowledge, country data and research to inform maternal and newborn quality of care improvement work in countries. The Learning Platform’s outcomes will feed into the WHO-led Global Learning Laboratory for Quality Universal Health Coverage.
  • Develop and support institutions and mechanisms for accountability for quality of care by designing a national accountability framework, and monitoring the progress of the Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Who are the partners?

In 2017-2019, a first group of nine countries will be joining the Network: Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, with more countries to join subsequently.

The Network will bring together officials from ministries of health, health care professionals and providers, and bilateral and multilateral development partners.

What impact will the Network have?

If the Network is successful,

  • millions of women and their newborn infants who endure unnecessary and preventable risks in childbirth will benefit from better care;
  • health workers who face enormous challenges in resource-poor settings will have access to quality of care improvement solutions that are adapted to their context;
  • nations which see investment in healthy women and children as the bedrock of economic and social development will implement their maternal, newborn and children health strategies more efficiently;
  • and global development partners will see rapid progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets of EWEC’s Global Strategy.