Multicountry meeting in Armenia accelerates progress toward improved maternal and child health in eastern Europe

Alberta Bacci

Within a project to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in eastern Europe by improving primary health care for women and babies and referral systems during pregnancy and after childbirth, WHO organized a meeting on this topic on 24–25 October 2013 in Yerevan, Armenia. The project is being implemented in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan and is financed by the Government of the Russian Federation. 

The meeting allowed participants:

  • to summarize the project’s achievements;
  • to share experience in implementation of the “WHO assessment tool for the quality of outpatient antepartum and postpartum care for women and newborns”; 
  • to review the introduction of supportive supervision and improvement of referral systems not only in the project’s target countries, but also in 10 other countries of eastern and central Europe;
  • to identify remaining challenges. 

Main outcomes

Participants developed recommendations for improvement of referral systems and concrete actions to implement these recommendations in the near future. 

The meeting was an important step forward in accelerating progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health) and the objectives of the European policy for health and well-being “Health 2020”.

Invited speakers

Besides representatives of 12 Member States nominated by their ministries of health, the meeting was attended by experts and international development partners.  

Dr S. Khachatryan, Deputy Minister of Health of Armenia, Dr S. Axelrod, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Public Relations of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, and many other speakers emphasized the importance of improving maternal and newborn health, health promotion and the prevention of complications related to childbirth. 

Professor R. Nadishauskiene, Chair of the European Regional Panel on Research and Training in Reproductive Health and Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department in the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, said “I was happy to share experience of development of a referral system for pregnant women, mothers and newborns in my country, but I also learned a lot and will use the new knowledge in Lithuania. The meeting provided the possibility to look at outpatient care from another angle”.