Assessment of the quality of care in Maternity Waiting Homes (MWHs) in Mulanje District, Malawi
Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)in Malawi remains high at 439 deaths per 100,000 live births, primarily due to limited access to skilled birth care. Although Malawi established Maternity Waiting Homes (MWHs) to improve access to skilled labour, the quality of care provided in the homes has received limited assessment. The aim of this study was to assess quality of care in the Maternity Waiting Homes in Mulanje, Malawi.
We conducted a descriptive qualitative study in three MWHs in Mulanje district, Malawi, from December 2015 to January 2016. We conducted a non-participatory observation using a checklist, to assess the physical layout of the facilities, six face-to-face in-depth interviews (IDIs)with health providers and four focus group discussions (FGDs) with 27 pregnant women admitted for more than 48 hours in MWHs. We digitally recorded all FGDs and IDIs simultaneously transcribing and translating them verbatim into English. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
There were mixed perceptions towards the quality of care in the MWHs. Factors that were perceived to indicate higher quality included a quiet environment at the MWH and midwifery services. Lack of cooking spaces, lack of 24-hour nursing care, absence of food and recreation services and sleeping on the floor negatively affected perceptions of quality.
The study has shown that care provided in MWHs varied across facilities. Perceptions of the quality of care were not uniform and a lack of standards contributed to the differences. Efforts should be made to improve, sustain and standardize care in MWHs in order to improve perceptions of quality of care in MWHs.