June 13, 2024

CETINJE, Montenegro, 20 APRIL 2024 – “Quality antenatal care is critical for a healthy start in life,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asiatoday during a visit to Cetinje’s maternity ward.

De Dominicis, accompanied by Dr Vojislav Šimun, Montenegro’s Minister of Health, met with mothers, newborns and health workers at the ward and saw firsthand Montenegro’s commitment to strengthening maternal and newborn healthcare.

During the visit, De Dominicis and Dr Šimun discussed the recommendations presented in the third assessment of theQuality of Maternal and Newborn Care in Montenegro. The report outlines the opportunities to implement new maternal care protocols, strengthen skills training for health workers in the field of maternal and newborn care, and improve conditions in healthcare settings including through establishing more individual delivery rooms and reorganizing hospitals to become more family-friendly.

“I would like to reflect on the relationship of employees towards women giving birth, as it is an example of a humane, committed and professional work. Their solidarity, dedication to work and everyday efforts to maintain good hygiene, makes up for the major deficiencies of this hospital. For example, there are rooms that need adaptation, old equipment and beds, inhumane conditions of work for employees and the stay of mothers and babies. Support to mothers to realize a close relationship full of love with their babies and to initiate in a good way breastfeeding immediately through the baby-friendly programme is possible only with the complete adaptation of this department,” said mother Snežana Minić while talking about her experience in Cetinje’s maternity ward with UNICEF’s Regional Director, Regina De Dominicis, and the Minister of Health, Dr Vojislav Šimun.

Mother Anita Miketić spoke about the significance of the baby-friendly programme.

“I am looking forward to the baby-friendly programme. I think it means a lot to the baby to be with the mother immediately, and, of course, this makes a difference to the mother too. Also, I have to underline the importance of the role of fathers during the first moments after a baby’s birth. The presence of the father makes the mother more self-confident and stronger. Many fathers consider it a priceless experience,” said Miketić.

“A healthy start in life depends on access to quality healthcare for mothers and babies. It is wonderful to see the impact of greater investment in maternal and newborn healthcare,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

UNICEF is working with governments and partners in countries worldwide to help ensure all babies and mothers have access to affordable, high-quality health care before, during and after birth.

Improving the quality of care for all mothers and babies as soon as possible and in line with international standards is a top priority for Montenegro’s Ministry of Health.

“The good health of babies and mothers and a stimulating environment adapted to infants and mothers in maternity wards is our common goal that we are determined to achieve in the coming period. Although an improvement compared to the past reports in this area is evident, the last assessment of the quality of maternal and newborn healthcare, which the Ministry of Health implemented with UNICEF’s support, recognized key areas that need improvement, and provided recommendations for the quality of care to be upgraded in all hospitals in Montenegro. I thank UNICEF for sharing their expertise with the Montenegrin health system and contributing to the improvement of the quality of healthcare in this area,” said Dr Vojislav Šimun, Minister of Health.

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