What Is The Importance Of Maternal And Child Health Care?
Quality maternal and child health care is beneficial as it leads to longer, more richer lives. Women and children can then live out their potentials.
Maternal and child health refers to the health of women and children during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Motherhood is a dream-come-true experience, but it's not so for many women. For them, it is associated with suffering, ill health and death.
According to the World Health Organization, 830 women die daily from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Also, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Nearly 20% of all global maternal deaths happen in Nigeria. Between 2005 and 2015, over 600 000 maternal deaths occurred in the country.
Here's a list of some benefits of maternal and child health below:
- A healthy child needs a healthy mother. According to UNICEF, a baby whose mother dies during childbirth is less likely to survive. And children who lost their mothers are 10 times more likely to die within two years of the death of their mothers.
- A health survey conducted in 2015 showed that women make most health decisions in a family. According to the survey, 94% of women make decisions of their own healthcare. And 59% make healthcare decisions for others. So ensuring the mother's health is a way to ensure the health and well-being of the entire family.
- A healthy woman is equal to a healthy family. Ultimately, this will lead to a healthy society.
- It is also a basic human right.
- Good health for women and children is beneficial as it leads to longer, more fulfilled lives.
- It allows the woman and the child the opportunity to attain meaningful development in life.
- Society believes that children are the leaders of tomorrow. They have to be healthy to live up to the future leadership, and positively contribute to society.
There is increasing global awareness that good quality care is key to keeping mothers and babies alive and well. Each year there are 303 000 deaths of women during pregnancy and childbirth; 2.6 million stillbirths, and 2.7 million deaths of babies during the first 28 days of life. Better care can prevent many of these deaths. Based on the WHO's Standards, here are a few recommendations for increasing standard of maternal and child healthcare. This will help you know what to demand from your health providers.
Pregnant women should receive the right care, at the right times
WHO recommends you see your health provider at least 8 times during your pregnancy. This is to detect and manage potential problems and reduce the likelihood of a stillbirth or neonatal death. Antenatal care also offers an opportunity for health workers to provide a range of support and information to pregnant women. This includes tips and advice on healthy lifestyles, preventing diseases, and family planning.
Newborns should receive essential care immediately after birth
Let newborns enjoy skin-to-skin contact on their mother’s chest and breastfeed. They need to be clean and warm, and receive care for their eyes and umbilical cord. Delay their bathing for 24 hours; vitamin K and vaccines given as per national guidelines. Let your doctor monitor their temperature, and identify and manage complications. He must do a complete assessment before discharge, normally around 24 hours. This serves as your first postnatal check-up.
Small and sick babies should be well cared for in a facility
Preterm babies or babies born small for their gestational age are at much greater risk for death. This is during the neonatal period, for long-term health problems and lifelong disabilities. These babies should be warm at all times and fed with their mothers’ own breast milk. You should practise kangaroo mother care as the baby’s condition allows. Very small and sick newborns should be cared for in well-equipped neonatal units and closely monitored by trained staff for complications.
All women and newborns must receive care that prevents hospital-acquired infections
Hospital-acquired infections increase the risk of death and disease. These add to the cost of care and the duration of your stay in a hospital. Standard precautions are essential to prevent hospital-acquired infections. These include washing your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub; safely storing and disposing of infectious waste and sharp objects; and sterilizing and disinfecting instruments in the labour and delivery room and newborn care area.
Communication with women and their families must be effective and respond to their needs
Patients should receive all information about their care and should feel involved in all decisions made regarding their treatment. Effective communication between health providers and patients can reduce unnecessary anxiety and make childbirth a positive experience for a woman, even if she experiences complications.
Every woman and newborn should have a complete, accurate, and standardized medical record
All babies should receive a birth certificate. Complete, accurate medical recording is important for documenting care, clinical follow-up, early detection of complications, and health outcomes, and helps to identify areas for improvement. Details of newborns, including vaccinations, gestational age, birth weight and examination findings. All of these should be recorded in a way that mother and child are linked.