25 April 2022 | COVID-19 has impacted all levels of society, with women and children being some of the most significantly affected by the pandemic.This is especially felt and seen through the decline in the quality of maternal and child health, which is  caused by the disruption of health services during the social restrictions regulations, or the overall crash of ourhealthcare system.

The disruption has resulted in a decreased frequency of nutritional adequacy check-ups for children under five, and the immunisation schedule as well as routine health checks for pregnant women, though this is a preventive action to reduce the risk for maternal and neonatal mortality.

On Friday, 22nd April 2022, United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), incollaboration with Guangzhou Municipal People’s Governments, and Guangzhou Women and Children Medical Center (GWCMC) initiated a telemedicine-themed webinar titled “Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic”.  This webinar was a form of UCLG ASPAC’s support to itsmember cities to address the challenges mentioned above, as they directly correlate to the ongoing efforts of achieving SDG 3 on “Good health and well-being”. Here are some key message takeaways from this webinar.

Ms Zhang Yajie (Chair of Standing Committee of Women in Local Governments, UCLG ASPAC; Vice Chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Guangzhou Committee) and Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi (Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC) delivered their opening remarks. Ms. Zhang Yajie stated how pandemic recovery must be inclusive, especially now that healthcare services are regaining some sense of normalcy.“At this time, COVID-19 reminding us to pay attention to populations who are vulnerable, when we think about theconstruction of health facilities.”, she said. To this, Dr.Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi stated how mothers during the pandemic are not only affected in terms of physical health but, “they also have been affected by mental health and depression issues”.

Through this telemedicine webinar, they hoped that Guangzhou will be able to transfer experiences to participants and responders, whom are representatives from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, and Jambi City, particularly the Abdul Manap Hospital regarding the optimalisation of maternal and child health services, and can increase the capacity of health workers and realize the implementation role of Guangzhou that has been playing with Guangzhou Women and Children and UCLG ASPAC , in favor to achieve the SDGs 3 “Good health and wealth being”.

This webinar was moderated by Dr. Makhyan Jibril Al, MSc M.Biomed (Buaian Team, Maternal and Children Improvement Program, Department of Health, East Java Government). The first presentation was from Dr. Dajun Fang (Director of Department of Obstetrics Guangzhou Women and Children Medical Center (GWCMC), where she showcased some of the best practices of of maternal healthcare service provision during the pandemic in Guangzhou.

She mentioned how maintaining a strong healthcare foundation has always been one of Guangzhou’s top priorities. THaving an adequate supply of medical equipment,Guangzhou has registered more than 200 thousand pregnant women to be involved and receive high quality and thorough healthcare services. This ranges from: 1) Routine Management of Pregnant Women, 2) Risk Management Strategy: a health handbook that provide risk information about the pregnancy for mothers and pregnant women, 3) Medical Services Plan for COVID-19 Pandemic divided into 3 zones: 1) Lockdown Zone, 2) Partial Lockdown Zone, and 3) Restricted Zone. Next is  Community Supports – with the implementation of last mile solutions such as the 3 People Group, Prenatal Home Visits, provision of  a Special Car for hospital visits and 5) Telemedicine services such as the Internet Hospital. This means providing online health consultation services for those who live in the inner parts of the city.In addition to that, Guangzhou  has been providing psychological health care services for mothers who might need them.

What about children’s health services?

To shed some light on this, Dr. Yan Hu (Director of Department of Children Healthcare, Guangzhou Women and Children Medical Center)  mentioned that Guangzhou has medical centres in every district, so they were able to respond to more than 8 million medical demands, especially related to women and children’s needs.

The first strategy to manage children’s health services is to communicate all updated COVID-19 information through digital means of communication, embracing the concept of telemedicine itself. Through telemedicine, the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center trained mothers, helped them to understand all aspects of childcare, and implementing it at home, provided health monitoring and consultations, and disseminated information on child development through microblogs and social media.

After that, they also managed a post-partum health programme called “Neonatal Home Visits during Epidemic”, which followed up to a mechanism where after 7 days of a child’s birth, parents who need professional help and guidance will be visited by health personnel.If they have received this services, they will receive a post-service certificate.

The next strategy is the “AI Health Bear: Neonatal Jaundice Follow-up Platform”. This is an artificial intelligence services, which is a follow-up management of neonatal jaundice.. With the help of AI, families are given information related to technical standard health care for babies. In addition, the GWCMC also has an evaluation document regarding children’s nutrition to provide advice on this matter. “We also provide a baby healthcare service platform which provides management of infectious and other diseases as well as records of human activities.”, she said.

Beside that, Guangzhou has developed a very sophisticated vaccination or immunisation system during the pandemic by actively communicating and educating parents on the necessary vaccines that their child should take, as well as regarding vaccination schedules. Furthermore, the city also carried out normal health facilities for areas that are not in lockdown. Workers at the forefront are given training and are certified. In addition, we also pay attention to health workers regarding their safety. We assure that we always have quality control on the front lines.”, she added.       

That is all for the key takeaways of this webinar and during the closing remarks by Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, she encouraged local governments to continue prioritising the health of women children and that we need to move FASTER and act TOGETHER in dealing with the effects of this pandemic.


By KM Team