LAHORE -“Women and their newborns deserve quality maternity care services with respect and dignity especially in the challenging times such as COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Mushtaq Ahmad, Director Clinical Governance and Institutional Strengthening, during a media briefing titled “Respectful Maternity Care (RMC)” jointly organised here at Lahore Press Club on Wednesday by Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) and Research and Development Forum for Safe Motherhood on Wednesday. During the conference he emphasized that PHC stands by its commitment to implement all relevant interventions to ensure provision of maternity care services to pregnant women with respect and dignity. 

He stated that the Commission has been working to ensure that women and newborns continue to receive vital life-saving interventions and that their right to dignity and respect is upheld, even in times of crisis. 

Dr Mushtaq highlighted that the Commission is mandated to improve quality of care across all healthcare establishments in the province including the provision of maternal and childcare services. The Minimum Service Delivery Standards (MSDS) prescribed by the Commission integrate the provision of Maternity Care at the relevant healthcare facilities and also provide guidelines to the healthcare service providers engaged in the delivery of maternal and newborns healthcare. 

The Commission has already developed and enforced the service delivery standards for implementation at tertiary care hospitals in the public and private sector and secondary care facilities that are providing maternal and childcare services such as antenatal and postnatal care, deliveries, neo-natal care, nutritional assessment etc. 

These standards require facilities to implement specific standards for clinical care which require following the national and international best practices and SOPs in the relevant area of healthcare. 

In order to ensure that the services delivered at the healthcare establishments meet at least the minimum acceptable level of quality, the PHC MSDS requires that these services are ‘well-led’, and delivered only by qualified professionals depending on the level and scope of services. 

The Commission has recently developed standards for facilities providing basic maternal and childcare such as nursing homes, midwifery clinics, and family welfare clinics of the Population Welfare Department. 

The standards will ensure that qualified professionals are delivering services at these facilities, within the scope approved by their respective councils.  The PHC is committed to ensure protection to patients’ rights at these facilities through incorporating guidelines for safeguarding the respect and dignity of patients accessing Maternity Care services at these facilities. 

The Commission will provide technical support to health care facilities in order to enable them to successfully implement standards and guidelines on Respectful Maternity Care in the province.