Ariadne Labs and WHO convene first global meeting on implementation of the Safe Childbirth Checklist

Maternal health clinicians are encouraged to adapt the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist for their local setting. This Hindi version of the Checklist has been used across primary care and community health facilities in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Maternal health clinicians are encouraged to adapt the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist for their local setting. This Hindi version of the Checklist has been used across primary care and community health facilities in Uttar Pradesh, India.

BOSTON (Aug. 23, 2017)  — The last two decades have seen real progress in making childbirth safer for women and infants around the world. However, more effort is still needed. Approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day. And 2.7 million newborns die every year in their first month of life; a similar number are stillborn.

Maternal and newborn health leaders are committed to driving these numbers down even further by focusing on improving safety and quality of care for women and babies during childbirth. One tool intended to do this is the World Health Organization’s Safe Childbirth Checklist.

This month, for the first time, Ariadne Labs and the WHO will bring together clinicians and maternal health champions from 13 countries where the Checklist has been piloted and implemented.

The gathering — “The Interregional Technical Consultation: Learning from the Implementation of WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist” — will provide a platform for shared learning from Checklist implementation and its impact on clinical childbirth practices and health outcomes. It will take place August 28-30 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“This is such an exciting opportunity to learn about the successes that countries around the world have had in implementing the Checklist,” said Dr. Katherine Semrau, an epidemiologist and the director of Ariadne Labs BetterBirth Program. Semrau will lead the seven-member Ariadne team facilitating the meeting, serve as a moderator during the 3-day event, and present the results of the BetterBirth trial in Uttar Pradesh, India, the world’s largest maternal health study testing implementation of the Checklist with peer-to-peer coaching and data feedback.

The WHO launched the Safe Childbirth Checklist in 2008, bringing a lens of safety and quality of care to childbirth practices globally. The Checklist consists of evidence-based essential birth practices which target major causes of facility-based maternal deaths, intrapartum-related stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. The practices are organized by pause points in the labor and delivery process: when the pregnant woman arrives to the facility, just before she begins pushing, soon after birth, and before discharge from the facility.

To explore strategies and effectiveness of the Checklist across diverse settings, the WHO launched the Safe Childbirth Checklist Collaboration, consisting of health care groups, academic institutions, non-governmental and other organizations interested in improving maternal and newborn health. Members of the Collaboration implemented adapted pilot editions of the Checklist in various countries and sites, providing valuable insights into the experiences of implementers on the ground. These insights were incorporated into the WHO SCC Implementation Guide.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Sri Lanka event brings together members of the Collaborative and others for the first time with the aim of gaining deeper insight into the experiences and data generated during Checklist implementation across different regions. The participants will include heads of the Checklist implementation programs, key partners involved in Checklist implementation, and government officials for patient safety, quality, and maternal and neonatal health.

Countries represented will include Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Ariadne Labs has worked with many of these countries on the introduction and roll out of the Checklist.

Partners will present their Checklist strategies, sharing the results of their studies on the behaviors and practices of health-care professionals as well as health outcomes data. Members of the Ariadne Labs team will serve as small group facilitators, leading discussions on readiness, implementation strategies, and program results and findings. Panel discussions throughout the event will focus on sustainability and scale up of implementation efforts, and recommendations for next steps moving forward.

In addition to Dr. Semrau, the Ariadne Labs team includes clinical implementation specialists Megan Marx Delaney, RN, MSN, MPH and Emily George, RN, BSN, MPH; implementation specialist Francine Maloney, MPH;  obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Rose Molina; and project managers Emily Benotti, MPH, and Margaret Ben-Or, MPH.

For Ariadne Labs, this gathering is an important next step in the mission to deliver better care at the most critical moments in people’s lives, everywhere. “We know that the practices in the Checklist save lives, and that implementation of the Checklist is not a one size fits all process,” said Dr. Semrau. “The Consultation will allow us to better understand what strategies have worked in different sites and begin to unpack how we can translate these successes to other settings.”

Look for us on Twitter (@AriadneLabs) and follow #BetterBirth for real-time photos and commentary from the consultation.