The largest body of gynecologists and obstetricians in India and the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers have joined hands to improve the standards of maternity services providers across the country.
This tie-up is significant and offers hope for a nation like India where the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births is 103, among the worst in the world and second only to Nigeria.
Under the collaboration, the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and the country’s apex body for accreditation and quality promotion in hospitals will jointly assess maternity service providers. There are about 39,000 gynecologists in India and, according to FOGSI, most of them operate through single-doctor nursing or maternity homes.
FOGSI, through its flagship initiative Manyata started in 2013, issues certifications to maternity homes following quality improvement (training) that acts as a stamp of quality ensuring consistent, safe, and respectful care for mothers during and after childbirth and works to improve the quality of private maternity care for women in low- and middle-income categories.
This initiative is supported by international organisations MSD for Mothers, and MacArthur Foundation. Under this programme, the adoption and practice of 16 clinical standards - in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards for antenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care is promoted.
Manyata is present in 22 states and Union Territories with planned expansion to other states while over 1,500 maternity homes have received their certification so far. After the latest tie-up, while FOGSI will continue its work on improving clinical standards for maternity homes, NABH will issue certificates after assessing facility standards.
Atul Mohan Kochhar, NABH chief executive, said that improving the quality of maternal healthcare in the country is certainly the need of the hour as India has one of the highest numbers of maternal deaths in the world.
“We strongly believe that it is imperative to lift the quality standards in maternal healthcare to be able to improve our health outcomes overall,” he said. This collaboration with FOGSI is a crucial step forward to strengthen the maternal health ecosystem across the country.”
Improving MMR in India but still a long way to go. Dr S Shantha Kumari, President, FOGSI, pointed out that the current Sample Registration System data suggests that India’s maternal mortality ratio has improved to 103 in 2017-19, from 167 in 2011-13, highlighting improvements in India’s health systems.
“However, in India, despite the increase in the number of women delivered in facilities, maternal mortality remains alarmingly high, suggesting gaps in quality of care but we still have a lot of ground to cover,” she said.
According to her, embedding standards for quality of care in health systems hold great potential in reducing maternal mortality and achieving the health-related SDG targets.She also said that with around 50 percent of women in the country delivering in private maternity hospitals, there is an urgent need for the adoption of clinical standards by the obstetric community. “We welcome the collaboration with NABH that will only promise better outcomes and health for women in India,” said Kumari.