7 NOVEMBER 2016 | GENEVA – The World Health Organization (WHO) today issued a new series of recommendations to improve quality of antenatal care in order to reduce the risk of stillbirths and pregnancy complications and give women a positive pregnancy experience.
Last year, an estimated 303 000 women died from pregnancy-related causes, 2.7 million babies died during the first 28 days of life and 2.6 million babies were stillborn. Quality health care during pregnancy and childbirth can prevent many of these deaths, yet globally only 64% of women receive antenatal (prenatal) care four or more times throughout their pregnancy.
Endorsed, by the UN Secretary-General, WHO’s new comprehensive guideline on routine ANC for pregnant women and adolescent girls complements existing WHO guidelines on the management of specific pregnancy-related complications. The guidance aims to capture the complex nature of the issues surrounding ANC health care practices and delivery, and to prioritize person-centred health and well-being, not only the prevention of death and morbidity, in accordance with a human rights-based approach.
WHO’s new antenatal care model increases the number of contacts a pregnant woman has with health providers throughout her pregnancy from four to eight. Recent evidence indicates that a higher frequency of antenatal contacts by women and adolescent girls with the health system is associated with a reduced likelihood of stillbirths. This is because of the increased opportunities to detect and manage potential problems. Eight or more contacts for antenatal care can reduce perinatal deaths by up to 8 per 1000 births when compared to four or more visits.
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