On 17 September, WHO/Europe will mark World Patient Safety Day focusing on the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. This is to highlight the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to when receiving unsafe care during childbirth.
This year’s slogan, “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth”, calls on all stakeholders to accelerate the actions necessary for ensuring safe and respectful childbirth. The safety of procedures and the quality of healthcare settings are areas that still lag behind despite significant progress towards this goal in recent years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the situation, leading to the disruption of essential health services arising from breaks in supply chains, women's inability to access care, and the shortage of skilled health workers.
Even before the pandemic, globally, approximately 810 women and 6700 newborns died daily, with most of those deaths occurring around the time of childbirth. About 2 million babies were also stillborn every year, with over 40% of stillbirths occurring during labour.
Most deaths are avoidable
Most of these deaths and stillbirths can be avoided through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled healthcare professionals working in supportive environments.
Since maternity care is also affected by issues of gender equity and violence, women’s experiences during childbirth have the potential to either empower them or inflict damage and emotional trauma.
What you can do
The responsibility to ensure that mothers and newborns receive safe and quality care rests with national health authorities, but everyone has a role to play. This is what you can do.
- Raise awareness in your community of the issue of maternal and newborn safety, particularly during childbirth.
- Call on national health authorities to engage with stakeholders and adopt effective and innovative strategies to improve maternal and newborn safety.
- Organize a technical or advocacy event to call for better maternal and newborn safety.
- Work with local, regional or national authorities to light up iconic monuments, landmarks and public places in orange, to show your support for maternal and newborn health and safety.
Light up a monument or landmark
In collaboration with your local or national authorities, arrange to light up a prominent monument, public space, or natural feature in orange on 17 September. If your planned events go beyond the day itself, you may wish to continue for the whole week and beyond
For buildings or monuments that are usually lit up in your local area, town or city, explore whether it is possible to have one or more building or monument lit up in orange.
About World Patient Safety Day
World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly through the adoption of resolution WHA72.6 – “Global action on patient safety”. The Day is firmly grounded in the fundamental principle of medicine – first do no harm.
World Patient Safety Day builds on a series of successful annual global ministerial summits on patient safety which began in London and Bonn in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The overall objectives of the Day are to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in healthcare safety, and promote global action to prevent and reduce avoidable harm in health care. Each year a theme is selected to shed light on a priority area critical to patient safety and ultimately the achievement of universal health coverage.