Back 13 December 2013

Working together is more effective than working alone

Three health care professional associations (HCPAs), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and the International Pediatric Association (IPA), are Board Members of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) and have embarked on a collaborative project to improve maternal and newborn health care services. The goal of the joint initiative is to improve maternal and newborn health resulting from the accelerated implementation of the 17 Essesential Interventions relating to Childbirth and Postnatal Care through the joint action by the Health Care Professional Associations (HCPA).  With the support from ICM, FIGO and IPA the national member associations in Indonesia and Uganda have agreed to be part of this one year project funded by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). World Health Organisation (WHO) support is pivotal to this joint initiative.

In four facilities in Uganda and Indonesia (two each) the gynecologists/obstetricians, the midwives and the pediatricians will increase their collaboration on the so called Essential Interventions. Essential Interventions are those health care interventions that have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having the biggest potential to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.

Team in IndonesiaIt is therefore crucial that all the three health professionals are prepared to participate in activities designed to facilitate the joint implementation of the Essential Interventions and establish linkages with the wider stakeholder group (Ministries of Health, WHO, Civil Society, Academia, Private Sector) involved in other maternal and newborn activities. It is anticipated that a package of activities will enhance the knowledge, motivation and team building between the three professional groups in practice settings.

Frances Day-Stirk, President of ICM, said: ‘This project will demonstrate how working together is more effective than each one working alone, and impacts women and their newborns’.

This project will use a defined monitoring and evaluation strategy to generate evidence on the effectiveness of the joint work between the three HCPAs in the implementation of the selected Essential Interventions. For example, a major cause of mothers dying is heavy bleeding after they gave birth (post-partum haemorrhage). A skilled, competent, confident midwife, gynecologist/obstetrician, or pediatrician can stop the bleeding. Without this essential intervention, the mother would probably bleed to death and leave behind her baby. Babies who have lost their mothers are 10 times more likely to die before reaching their second birthday. It is thus crucial that health care providers, be they pediatricians, obstetricians or midwives, are competent to stop the bleeding.

Jose Belizan, M&E Advisor, Chairman and Director of the Department of Mother & Child Health Research at the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (IECS), indicates: ‘The joint work of the three organizations is an unique asset to improve the implementation of the essential interventions and finally contribute to a better outcome of mothers and their newborns. The experience obtained with this project will involve a wider dissemination of this experience particularly in low-income countries”.

Professor Hamid Rushwan, Chief Executive of FIGO, said: ‘I consider this project – implementing the Essential Interventions – to be an important milestone in establishing collaborative work between the three key professional organisations at the health facility level. This will contribute enormously to the improvement of maternal and newborn health, especially in low- and middle-resource countries.’

Professor Peter Cooper, Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee of IPA highlights that: ‘Improvements in maternal and newborn health can only come about through teamwork and this initiative embodies that philosophy – we hope that this project will prove to be a model that can be rolled out on a much bigger scale.’ 

Careful monitoring and evaluation will ensure that the collected data and experience inform future endeavors.

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