New tool on assessment of quality of antenatal and postpartum care piloted in Kyrgyzstan

WHO/Gunta Lazdane

Maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity is decreasing in many countries of the WHO European Region, however, much more should be done to accelerate the progress. The Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan has requested assistance of WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF in accessing the quality of maternal and neonatal health care to develop recommendations for improvement in consultation with international and national experts.

The assessment tool for the quality of hospital care for mothers and newborn babies was developed in 2009 and assists to identify best practices as well as the key areas of pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care that need to be improved. Since then many countries within and outside the WHO European Region have used this tool and approach that covers all aspects of maternal and newborn care in the hospital, but primary health care was missing.

A new tool has been developed by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with international experts to assess the quality of antenatal and postpartum care for women and their babies and was piloted in Kyrgyzstan in March 2012 in Osh, Djalal-Abad and Bishkek health care facilities.

The Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan has composed a national team of experts including obstetricians and gynaecologists, neonatologists and midwifes that will use the obtained knowledge and skills in their own practise as well as in the future monitoring of quality of care in Kyrgyzstan and beyond. UNFPA Country office in Kyrgyzstan supported involvement of international experts that have experience in the countries of central Asia – Alberta Bacci, Dalia Jeckaite, Audrius Maciulevicius and Ion Bologan, and was responsible for the logistics which proved to be quite a challenge due to many factors including snow and closed roads in the South of Kyrgyzstan that caused last minute changes of the health facilities. 

Each visited hospital and primary health care facility received preliminary information on the main strengths and weaknesses and discussions took place with all health professionals of the facility. A full report on each health facility will hopefully initiate the internal process of quality improvement as many aspects do not require major financial investments and external assistance.

The comprehensive assessment including all levels of care will provide Kyrgyzstan with a detailed analysis of the successes as well as remaining challenges and possibilities for monitoring of the progress.