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1.  Are hospitals prepared to support newborn survival? – an evaluation of eight first-referral level hospitals in Kenya* 
Objective
To assess the availability of resources that support the provision of basic neonatal care in eight first-referral level (district) hospitals in Kenya.
Methods
We selected two hospitals each from four of Kenya’s eight provinces with the aim of representing the diversity of this part of the health system in Kenya. We created a checklist of 53 indicator items necessary for providing essential basic care to newborns and assessed their availability at each of the eight hospitals by direct observation, and then compared our observations with the opinions of health workers providing care to newborns on recent availability for some items, using a self-administered structured questionnaire.
Results
The hospitals surveyed were often unable to maintain a safe hygienic environment for patients and health care workers; staffing was insufficient and sometimes poorly organised to support the provision of care; some key equipment, laboratory tests, drugs and consumables were not available while patient management guidelines were missing in all sites.
Conclusion
Hospitals appear relatively poorly prepared to fill their proposed role in ensuring newborn survival. More effective interventions are needed to improve them to meet the special needs of this at-risk group.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2009.02358.x
PMCID: PMC2751740  PMID: 19695001
neonatal care; hospitals; Kenya; observational study
2.  In-service training for health professionals to improve care of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries 
Background
A variety of in-service emergency care training courses are currently being promoted as a strategy to improve the quality of care provided to seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries. Most courses have been developed in high-income countries. However, whether these courses improve the ability of health professionals to provide appropriate care in low-income countries remains unclear. This is the first update of the original review.
Objectives
To assess the effects of in-service emergency care training on health professionals' treatment of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries.
Search methods
For this update, we searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, part of The Cochrane Library (http://www.cochranelibrary.com); MEDLINE, Ovid SP; EMBASE, Ovid SP; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), part of The Cochrane Library (http://www.cochranelibrary.com) (including the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group Specialised Register); Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Knowledge/Science and eight other databases. We performed database searches in February 2015. We also searched clinical trial registries, websites of relevant organisations and reference lists of related reviews. We applied no date, language or publication status restrictions when conducting the searches.
Selection criteria
Randomised trials, non-randomised trials, controlled before and after studies and interrupted-time-series studies that compared the effects of in-service emergency care training versus usual care were eligible for inclusion. We included only hospital-based studies and excluded community-based studies. Two review authors independently screened and selected studies for inclusion.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed study risk of bias and confidence in effect estimates (certainty of evidence) for each outcome using GRADE (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation). We described results and presented them in GRADE tables.
Main results
We identified no new studies in this update. Two randomised trials (which were included in the original review) met the review eligibility criteria. In the first trial, newborn resuscitation training compared with usual care improved provider performance of appropriate resuscitation (trained 66% vs usual care 27%, risk ratio 2.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75 to 3.42; moderate certainty evidence) and reduced inappropriate resuscitation (trained mean 0.53 vs usual care 0.92, mean difference 0.40, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.66; moderate certainty evidence). Effect on neonatal mortality was inconclusive (trained 28% vs usual care 25%, risk ratio 0.77, 95% CI 0.40 to 1.48; N = 27 deaths; low certainty evidence). Findings from the second trial suggest that essential newborn care training compared with usual care probably slightly improves delivery room newborn care practices (assessment of breathing, preparedness for resuscitation) (moderate certainty evidence).
Authors' conclusions
In-service neonatal emergency care courses probably improve health professionals' treatment of seriously ill babies in the short term. Further multi-centre randomised trials evaluating the effects of in-service emergency care training on long-term outcomes (health professional practice and patient outcomes) are needed.
PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY
In-service training for health professionals to improve care of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries
What question was the review asking?
This is the first update of the original Cochrane review, whose objective was to find out whether additional emergency care training programmes can improve the ability of health workers in poor countries to care for seriously ill newborns and children admitted to hospitals. Researchers at The Cochrane Collaboration searched for all studies that could answer this question and found two relevant studies.
What are the key messages?
The review authors suggest that giving health professionals in poor countries additional training in emergency care probably improves their ability to care for seriously ill newborns. We need additional high-quality studies, including studies in which health professionals are trained to care for seriously ill older children.
Background: training health professionals to care for seriously ill babies and children
In poor countries, many babies and children with serious illnesses die even though they have been cared for in hospitals. One reason for this may be that health workers in these countries often are not properly trained to offer the care that these children need.
In poor countries, children often become seriously ill because of conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhoea, and may need emergency care. For newborn babies, the most common reason for emergency care is too little oxygen to the baby during birth. If this goes on for too long, the person delivering the baby has to help the baby breathe, and sometimes has to get the baby's heart rate back to normal. This is called neonatal resuscitation.
Neonatal resuscitation is a skilled task, and the health worker needs proper training. As babies need to be resuscitated quickly, the health worker needs to know how to prepare for this before the baby is born. For instance, he or she needs to know how to prepare the room and proper equipment. Health workers in poor countries often do not have these skills, and these babies are likely to die. Babies can also be harmed if the health worker does not resuscitate the baby correctly.
Several training programmes have been developed to teach health workers how to give emergency care to seriously ill babies and children. But most of these have been developed and tested in wealthy countries, and we don't know whether they would work in poor countries.
What happens when health professionals in poor countries are given extra training?
The review authors found two relevant studies. These studies compared the practices of health professionals who had been given extra training in the care of newborns with the practices of health professionals who did not receive extra training.
In the first study, nurses at a maternity hospital in Kenya completed a one-day training course on how to resuscitate newborn babies. This course was adapted from the UK Resuscitation Council, and it included lectures and practical training. The study suggests that after these training courses:
health professionals are probably more likely to resuscitate newborn babies correctly (moderate certainty of the evidence); and
newborn babies may be less likely to die while being resuscitated (low certainty of the evidence).
In the second study, doctors, nurses and midwives in five Sri Lankan hospitals were given a four-day training course on how to prepare for and provide care for newborns. This course was adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO) Training Modules on Essential Newborn Care and Breastfeeding, and included lectures, demonstrations, hands-on training and small group discussions. This study suggests that after these training courses:
health professionals probably are more likely to be well prepared to resuscitate newborn babies (moderate certainty of the evidence).
Unfortunately, the two studies followed up with health professionals for only two to three months after they received training. We therefore don't know if the benefits of the training courses lasted over time.
The review authors found no studies that looked at the effects of training programmes on the care of older children.
How up-to-date is this review?
Review authors searched for studies that had been published up to February 2015.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007071.pub3
PMCID: PMC4463987  PMID: 25968066
3.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
Background
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Conclusions
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
4.  Human Resource and Funding Constraints for Essential Surgery in District Hospitals in Africa: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(3):e1000242.
In the second of two papers investigating surgical provision in eight district hospitals in Saharan African countries, Margaret Kruk and colleagues describe the range of providers of surgical care and anesthesia and estimate the related costs.
Background
There is a growing recognition that the provision of surgical services in low-income countries is inadequate to the need. While constrained health budgets and health worker shortages have been blamed for the low rates of surgery, there has been little empirical data on the providers of surgery and cost of surgical services in Africa. This study described the range of providers of surgical care and anesthesia and estimated the resources dedicated to surgery at district hospitals in three African countries.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional survey of data from eight district hospitals in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. There were no specialist surgeons or anesthetists in any of the hospitals. Most of the health workers were nurses (77.5%), followed by mid-level providers (MLPs) not trained to provide surgical care (7.8%), and MLPs trained to perform surgical procedures (3.8%). There were one to six medical doctors per hospital (4.2% of clinical staff). Most major surgical procedures were performed by doctors (54.6%), however over one-third (35.9%) were done by MLPs. Anesthesia was mainly provided by nurses (39.4%). Most of the hospital expenditure was related to staffing. Of the total operating costs, only 7% to 14% was allocated to surgical care, the majority of which was for obstetric surgery. These costs represent a per capita expenditure on surgery ranging from US$0.05 to US$0.14 between the eight hospitals.
Conclusion
African countries have adopted different policies to ensure the provision of surgical care in their respective district hospitals. Overall, the surgical output per capita was very low, reflecting low staffing ratios and limited expenditures for surgery. We found that most surgical and anesthesia services in the three countries in the study were provided by generalist doctors, MLPs, and nurses. Although more information is needed to estimate unmet need for surgery, increasing the funds allocated to surgery, and, in the absence of trained doctors and surgeons, formalizing the training of MLPs appears to be a pragmatic and cost-effective way to make basic surgical services available in underserved areas.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Infectious diseases remain the major killers in developing countries, but traumatic injuries, complications of childbirth, and other conditions that need surgery are important contributors to the overall burden of disease in these countries. Unfortunately, the provision of surgical services in low- and middle-income countries is often insufficient. There are many fewer operations per a head of population in developing countries than in developed countries, essential operations such as cesarean sections for complicated deliveries are not always available, and elective operations such as male and female sterilization can be difficult to obtain. Lack of funding for surgical procedures and shortages of trained health workers have often been blamed for the low rates of surgery in developing countries. For example, anesthesiologists (doctors who are trained to give anesthetics and other pain-relieving agents) and trained anesthetists (usually nurses and technicians) are rare in many African countries, as are surgeons and obstetricians (doctors who look after women during pregnancy and childbirth). To make matters worse, these specialists often work in tertiary referral hospitals in large cities. In district hospitals, which provide most of the primary health care needs of rural populations, basic surgical care is usually provided by “mid-level health care providers” (MLPs)—individuals with a level of training between that of nurses and physicians.
Why Was This Study Done?
Various organizations are currently working to improve emergency and essential surgical care in developing countries. For example, the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group (BESG) seeks to define, quantify, and address the problem of unmet surgical needs in sub-Saharan Africa. Importantly, however, before any programs can be introduced to improve access to surgical services in developing countries, better baseline data on existing surgical services needs to be collected—most of the available information on these services is anecdotal. In this study, the researchers (most of whom are members of the BESG) investigate the provision of surgical procedures and anesthesia in district hospitals in three sub-Saharan African countries and estimate the costs of surgery performed in the same hospitals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected recent data on the number of doctors, MLPs, and nurses in two district hospitals in Tanzania and in Mozambique, and from four district hospitals in Uganda and information on each hospital's expenditure. Most of the health workers in these hospitals (which care for 3 million people between them) were nurses (77.5%), followed by MLPs not trained to provide surgical care (7.8%), and MLPs trained to provide surgical care (3.8%). The hospitals had between one and six medical doctors each (28 across all the hospitals), but there were no trained surgeons or anesthesiologists posted at any of the hospitals. About half of the major surgical procedures undertaken at these hospitals were performed by doctors but more than a third were done by MLPs although the exact pattern of personnel involved in surgery varied among the three countries. Anesthesia was mostly provided by nurses and doctors; again the pattern of anesthesia provision varied among countries and hospitals. Only 7%–14% of overall hospital expenditure was allocated to surgical care and most of this allocation was used for obstetric services. Finally, the researchers estimate that, on the basis of district populations, the district hospitals spent between US$0.05 and US$0.14 per head on surgical services.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the district hospitals investigated in this study, physicians, MLPs, and nurses provide most of the surgical care. Furthermore, although all the hospitals in the study provide some surgical care, it accounts for a small part of the hospitals' overall operating costs. These findings may not be generalizable to other district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa and provide no information about the unmet needs for surgical care. Nevertheless, these findings and those of a separate paper that investigates the range and volume of surgical procedures undertaken in the same district hospitals provide a valuable baseline for planning the expansion of health care services in Africa. They also suggest that increasing the funds allocated to surgery and formalizing the training of MLPs might be a cost-effective way of increasing access to surgical care in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000242.
The range and volume of surgery in the same hospitals is investigated in a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Moses Galukande et al.
Information on the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group is available
WHO's Global initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care plans to take essential emergency, basic surgery and anesthesia skills to health care staff in low- and middle-income countries around the world; WHO also has a page describing the importance of emergency and essential surgery in primary health care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000242
PMCID: PMC2834706  PMID: 20231869
5.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Improve the Quality of Care of Children in District Hospitals in Kenya: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001238.
A cost-effective analysis conducted by Edwine Barasa and colleagues estimates that a complex intervention aimed at improving quality of pediatric care would be affordable and cost-effective in Kenya.
Background
To improve care for children in district hospitals in Kenya, a multifaceted approach employing guidelines, training, supervision, feedback, and facilitation was developed, for brevity called the Emergency Triage and Treatment Plus (ETAT+) strategy. We assessed the cost effectiveness of the ETAT+ strategy, in Kenyan hospitals. Further, we estimate the costs of scaling up the intervention to Kenya nationally and potential cost effectiveness at scale.
Methods and Findings
Our cost-effectiveness analysis from the provider's perspective used data from a previously reported cluster randomized trial comparing the full ETAT+ strategy (n = 4 hospitals) with a partial intervention (n = 4 hospitals). Effectiveness was measured using 14 process measures that capture improvements in quality of care; their average was used as a summary measure of quality. Economic costs of the development and implementation of the intervention were determined (2009 US$). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were defined as the incremental cost per percentage improvement in (average) quality of care. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was used to assess uncertainty. The cost per child admission was US$50.74 (95% CI 49.26–67.06) in intervention hospitals compared to US$31.1 (95% CI 30.67–47.18) in control hospitals. Each percentage improvement in average quality of care cost an additional US$0.79 (95% CI 0.19–2.31) per admitted child. The estimated annual cost of nationally scaling up the full intervention was US$3.6 million, approximately 0.6% of the annual child health budget in Kenya. A “what-if” analysis assuming conservative reductions in mortality suggests the incremental cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted by scaling up would vary between US$39.8 and US$398.3.
Conclusion
Improving quality of care at scale nationally with the full ETAT+ strategy may be affordable for low income countries such as Kenya. Resultant plausible reductions in hospital mortality suggest the intervention could be cost-effective when compared to incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of other priority child health interventions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
According to latest global estimates from UNICEF, 7.6 million children currently die every year before they reach five years of age. Half of these deaths occur in children in sub-Saharan Africa and tragically, most of these deaths are due to a few treatable and preventable diseases, such as pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea, for which effective interventions are already available. In order to meet the target of the 4th Millennium Development Goal—which aims to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds from 1990 levels by 2015—delivering these interventions is essential.
In Kenya, the under-five child mortality rate must be reduced by half from its 2008 level in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target and so improving the management of serious child illness might help achieve this goal. A study published last year in PLoS Medicine described such an approach and included the development and implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines linked to health worker training, follow-up supervision, performance feedback, and facilitation in eight district hospitals in Kenya.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the study mentioned above, the researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care in intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later and found that performance improved more in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. However, while this strategy was effective at improving the quality of health care, it is unclear whether scaling up the approach would be a good use of limited resources. So in this study, the same researchers performed a cost-effectiveness analysis (which they conducted alongside the original trial) of their quality improvement intervention and estimated the costs and effects of scaling up this approach to cover the entire population of Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In order to perform the cost part of the analysis, the researchers collected the relevant information on costs by using clinical and accounting record reviews and interviews with those involved in developing and implementing the intervention. The researchers evaluated the effectiveness part of the analysis by comparing the implementation of their improved quality of care strategy as delivered in the intervention hospitals with the partial intervention as delivered in the control hospitals by calculating the mean percentage improvement in the 14 process of care indicators at 18 months. Finally, the researchers calculated the costs of scaling up the intervention by applying their results to the whole of Kenya—121 hospital facilities with an estimated annual child admission rate of 2,000 per facility.
The researchers found that the quality of care (as measured by the process of care indicators) was 25% higher in intervention hospitals than in control hospitals, while the cost per child admission was US$50.74 in intervention hospitals compared to US$31.1 in control hospitals. The researchers calculated that each percentage improvement in the average quality of care was achieved at an additional cost of US$0.79 per admitted child. Extrapolating these results to all of Kenya, the estimated annual cost of scaling up the intervention nationally was US$3.6 million, about 0.6% of the annual child health budget in Kenya.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this cost-effectiveness analysis suggests that a comprehensive quality improvement intervention is effective at improving standards of care but at an additional cost, which may be relatively cost effective compared with basic care if the improvements observed are associated with decreases in child inpatient mortality. The absolute costs for scaling up are comparable to, or even lower than, costs of other, major child health interventions. As the international community is giving an increasing focus to strengthening health systems, these findings provide a strong case for scaling up this intervention, which improves quality of care and service provision for the major causes of child mortality, in rural hospitals throughout Kenya and other district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001238.
The researchers' original article appeared in PLoS Medicine in 2011: Ayieko P, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Opondo C, Opiyo N, et al. (2011) A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial. PLoS Med 8(4): e1001018. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
The IDOC Africa provides further information on the ETAT+ strategy
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information on MDG 4, including strategies to reduce global child mortality) and the WHO pocket-book “Hospital care for children” includes guidelines for the management of common but serious childhood illnesses in resource-limited settings
UNICEF www.unicef.org also publishes information on global child mortality rates and the Countdown to 2015 website tracks coverage levels for health interventions proven to reduce child mortality
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001238
PMCID: PMC3373608  PMID: 22719233
6.  Donor Funding for Newborn Survival: An Analysis of Donor-Reported Data, 2002–2010 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001332.
With recent increases in development assistance money for maternal and child health, Catherine Pitt and colleagues examine whether foreign aid specifically for newborns has changed, whether it's on par with the burden of newborn deaths worldwide, and how such funding can be tracked.
Background
Neonatal mortality accounts for 43% of global under-five deaths and is decreasing more slowly than maternal or child mortality. Donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), but no analysis to date has disaggregated aid for newborns. We evaluated if and how aid flows for newborn care can be tracked, examined changes in the last decade, and considered methodological implications for tracking funding for specific population groups or diseases.
Methods and Findings
We critically reviewed and categorised previous analyses of aid to specific populations, diseases, or types of activities. We then developed and refined key terms related to newborn survival in seven languages and searched titles and descriptions of donor disbursement records in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Creditor Reporting System database, 2002–2010. We compared results with the Countdown to 2015 database of aid for MNCH (2003–2008) and the search strategy used by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Prior to 2005, key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records but their frequency increased markedly thereafter. Only two mentions were found of “stillbirth” and only nine references were found to “fetus” in any spelling variant or language. The total value of non-research disbursements mentioning any newborn search terms rose from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010 (constant 2010 US$). The value of non-research projects exclusively benefitting newborns fluctuated somewhat but remained low, at US$5.7 million in 2010. The United States and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
Conclusions
Donor attention to newborn survival has increased since 2002, but it appears unlikely that donor aid is commensurate with the 3.0 million newborn deaths and 2.7 million stillbirths each year. We recommend that those tracking funding for other specific population groups, diseases, or activities consider a key term search approach in the Creditor Reporting System along with a detailed review of their data, but that they develop their search terms and interpretations carefully, taking into account the limitations described.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 1990, 12 million children—most of them living in developing countries—died before they reached their fifth birthday. Faced with this largely avoidable loss of young lives, in 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing under-five mortality (deaths) to one-third of its 1990 level by 2015 as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4); this goal, together with seven others, aims to eradicate extreme poverty globally. In recent years, progress towards reducing child mortality has accelerated but remains insufficient to achieve MDG4, in part, because progress towards reducing neonatal mortality—deaths during the first 28 days of life—has been particularly slow. Neonatal deaths now account for a greater proportion of global child deaths than in 1990—43% of the 7 million children who died before their fifth birthday in 2011 died during the neonatal period. The major causes of neonatal deaths are complications of preterm and term delivery and infections. Simple interventions such as improved hygiene at birth and advice on breastfeeding can substantially reduce neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
To achieve MDG4, more must be done to prevent deaths among newborn babies. One reason that progress in reducing neonatal mortality is slow could be insufficient donor funding (aid) for newborn health. Previous analyses by, for example, Countdown to 2015 (which tracks coverage levels for health interventions that reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality) indicate that donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health over the past decade, but how much of this aid directly benefits newborns is unknown. Here, the researchers develop a method for tracking aid flows for newborns and examine changes in this flow over the past decade by applying their new strategy to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System (CRS) Aid Activity database. This database collects information about official development assistance for health given (disbursed) to developing countries by member countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, international organizations, and some private donors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a comprehensive set of search terms related to newborn survival by piloting it on the Countdown to 2015 official development assistance database, which covers the years 2003–2008. They then used their list of 24 key terms to search the CRS database from 2002 (the first year for which relatively complete disbursement data are available) to 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available) and classified each retrieved project according to whether its funding activities aimed to benefit newborns exclusively or to improve the health of other population groups as well. The researchers found that key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records before 2005 but that their frequency increased markedly thereafter. The total value of non-research disbursements (aid provided for programmatic or advocacy activities) that mentioned any newborn search terms increased from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010. The value of non-research projects that exclusively benefitted newborns fluctuated; in 2010, it was $US5.7 million. Finally, the US and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning newborns and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the value of aid disbursements mentioning newborns or an activity likely to benefit newborns increased 20-fold between 2002 and 2010 and constituted an increasing proportion of aid for maternal, newborn, and child health. Although this increase may partly reflect increased detail in aid disbursement reporting, it is also likely to reflect an increase in donor attention to newborn survival. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by limitations in the search strategy and in the CRS database, which does not capture aid flows from emerging donors such as China or from many private foundations. Moreover, because these findings take no account of domestic expenditure, they do not provide a comprehensive estimate of the value of resources available in developing countries for newborn health. Nevertheless, investment in newborn survival is unlikely to be commensurate with global newborn mortality. Thus, an expansion of programmatic funding from donors as well as increased governmental support for newborn health in developing countries is urgently needed to catalyze the scale-up of cost-effective interventions to save newborn lives and to meet MDG4.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001332.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4 and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including the 2012 report of UN Inter-agency Group of Child Mortality Estimation; its Committing to Child Survival: a Promise Renewed webpage includes links to its 2012 progress report, to a video about progress made in reducing child deaths worldwide, and to stories about child survival in the field
The World Health Organization has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and about maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (some information in several languages)
Countdown to 2015 provides additional information on maternal, newborn, and child survival, including its 2012 report Building a Future for Women and Children
The Healthy Newborn Network (HNN) is a community of more than 70 partner organizations addressing critical knowledge gaps for newborn health providing recent data on newborn survival and analyses of country programs
Information on and access to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development Creditor Reporting System Aid Activities database is available
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001332
PMCID: PMC3484125  PMID: 23118619
7.  An intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals: Understanding the context 
Background
It is increasingly appreciated that the interpretation of health systems research studies is greatly facilitated by detailed descriptions of study context and the process of intervention. We have undertaken an 18-month hospital-based intervention study in Kenya aiming to improve care for admitted children and newborn infants. Here we describe the baseline characteristics of the eight hospitals as environments receiving the intervention, as well as the general and local health system context and its evolution over the 18 months.
Methods
Hospital characteristics were assessed using previously developed tools assessing the broad structure, process, and outcome of health service provision for children and newborns. Major health system or policy developments over the period of the intervention at a national level were documented prospectively by monitoring government policy announcements, the media, and through informal contacts with policy makers. At the hospital level, a structured, open questionnaire was used in face-to-face meetings with senior hospital staff every six months to identify major local developments that might influence implementation. These data provide an essential background for those seeking to understand the generalisability of reports describing the intervention's effects, and whether the intervention plausibly resulted in these effects.
Results
Hospitals had only modest capacity, in terms of infrastructure, equipment, supplies, and human resources available to provide high-quality care at baseline. For example, hospitals were lacking between 30 to 56% of items considered necessary for the provision of care to the seriously ill child or newborn. An increase in spending on hospital renovations, attempts to introduce performance contracts for health workers, and post-election violence were recorded as examples of national level factors that might influence implementation success generally. Examples of factors that might influence success locally included frequent and sometimes numerous staff changes, movements of senior departmental or administrative staff, and the presence of local 'donor' partners with alternative priorities.
Conclusion
The effectiveness of interventions delivered at hospital level over periods realistically required to achieve change may be influenced by a wide variety of factors at national and local levels. We have demonstrated how dynamic such contexts are, and therefore the need to consider context when interpreting an intervention's effectiveness.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-42
PMCID: PMC2724481  PMID: 19627588
8.  Essential Surgery at the District Hospital: A Retrospective Descriptive Analysis in Three African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(3):e1000243.
In the first of two papers investigating surgical provision in eight district hospitals in Saharan African countries, Margaret Kruk and colleagues find low levels of surgical care provision suggesting unmet need for surgical services.
Background
Surgical conditions contribute significantly to the disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet there is an apparent neglect of surgical care as a public health intervention to counter this burden. There is increasing enthusiasm to reverse this trend, by promoting essential surgical services at the district hospital, the first point of contact for critical conditions for rural populations. This study investigated the scope of surgery conducted at district hospitals in three sub-Saharan African countries.
Methods and Findings
In a retrospective descriptive study, field data were collected from eight district hospitals in Uganda, Tanzania, and Mozambique using a standardized form and interviews with key informants. Overall, the scope of surgical procedures performed was narrow and included mainly essential and life-saving emergency procedures. Surgical output varied across hospitals from five to 45 major procedures/10,000 people. Obstetric operations were most common and included cesarean sections and uterine evacuations. Hernia repair and wound care accounted for 65% of general surgical procedures. The number of beds in the studied hospitals ranged from 0.2 to 1.0 per 1,000 population.
Conclusion
The findings of this study clearly indicate low levels of surgical care provision at the district level for the hospitals studied. The extent to which this translates into unmet need remains unknown although the very low proportions of live births in the catchment areas of these eight hospitals that are born by cesarean section suggest that there is a substantial unmet need for surgical services. The district hospital in the current health system in sub-Saharan Africa lends itself to feasible integration of essential surgery into the spectrum of comprehensive primary care services. It is therefore critical that the surgical capacity of the district hospital is significantly expanded; this will result in sustainable preventable morbidity and mortality.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 234 million major surgical procedures take place globally. Of these procedures, only a quarter are performed in low- and middle-income countries where nearly three-quarters of the world's population lives. Put another way, in high-income countries, 10,110 people out of every 100,000 have surgery each year on average compared to only 295 people out of every 100,000 in low- and middle-income countries. Yet conditions that need surgery (including complications of childbirth and traumatic injuries) are common in developing countries and contribute significantly to the burden of disease in these countries. Various organizations are working to reduce this burden by improving emergency and essential surgical care in developing countries. For example, the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group (BESG), which includes experts in surgery, anesthesia, obstetrics (the branch of medicine that cares for women during pregnancy and childbirth), and health policy from several African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the US, aims to increase access to surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa.
Why Was This Study Done?
One way to improve access to surgical services in sub-Saharan Africa would be to promote the provision of essential surgical services at district hospitals. These hospitals are the first referral facilities for people living in rural areas. Traditionally, patients receive much of their primary health care at these facilities but are referred to secondary and tertiary health care facilities (regional and national referral hospitals, respectively) for more specialized care. However, many surgical conditions—in particular, obstetric emergencies—need to be treated at district hospitals if lives are to be saved. Unfortunately, very little is known about the range and volume of surgical procedures currently undertaken in district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa and such information is needed before programs can be developed to increase access to surgical services at these facilities. In this retrospective, descriptive study, the researchers (some of whom are part of the BESG) investigate the scope of surgery undertaken in district hospitals in three sub-Saharan African countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained recent data on the surgical procedures done at two representative district hospitals each in Tanzania and in Mozambique and four representative district hospitals in Uganda by examining hospital records and by interviewing administrators. The observed range of surgical procedures performed in these hospitals was narrow, they report, consisting mainly of essential and life-saving emergency procedures such as cesarean sections for the delivery of babies and wound-related procedures. Obstetric procedures accounted for around half of all surgical procedures in all the hospitals except one Ugandan hospital. Hernia repair and wound care accounted for nearly two-thirds of general surgical procedures. The surgical output across the hospitals varied from five to 45 major procedures per 10,000 people in the population (average 25 operations per 10,000 people). Across the hospitals, between one and 17 cesarean sections and between 0.5 and seven hernia repairs were performed per 10,000 people in the population. Finally, the researchers used their data and WHO estimates of the population need for cesarean sections to estimate that in the two Tanzanian district hospitals, between half and two-thirds of women that needed a cesarean section did not have access to this life-saving procedure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that there are low levels of provision of surgical care in district hospitals in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Uganda. Further studies are needed to confirm that these findings are generalizable to district hospitals elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa and to quantify the extent to which this low level of surgical care translates into unmet needs. Limitations of the study include a lack of information on outcomes, on referral of patients to higher-level facilities, and on how many of the surgical procedures undertaken at these hospitals dealt with traumatic injuries. Nevertheless, the information collected in this study, together with that in a separate paper that investigates the availability of health workers and funding for the provision of essential surgery in district hospitals in these three countries, suggests that the surgical capacity of district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa needs to be improved. If this goal can be achieved, suggest the researchers, it should avert many illnesses and deaths in this poor region of the world.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000243.
The availability of health workers and funding for surgery in the same hospitals is investigated in a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Margaret E. Kruk et al.
Information on the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group is available
WHO's Global initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care plans to take essential emergency, basic surgery and anesthesia skills to health care staff in low- and middle-income countries around the world; WHO also has a page describing the importance of emergency and essential surgery in primary health care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000243
PMCID: PMC2834708  PMID: 20231871
9.  Improvements in newborn care and newborn resuscitation following a quality improvement program at scale: results from a before and after study in Tanzania 
Background
Every year, more than a million of the world’s newborns die on their first day of life; as many as two-thirds of these deaths could be saved with essential care at birth and the early newborn period. Simple interventions to improve the quality of essential newborn care in health facilities – for example, improving steps to help newborns breathe at birth – have demonstrated up to 47% reduction in newborn mortality in health facilities in Tanzania. We conducted an evaluation of the effects of a large-scale maternal-newborn quality improvement intervention in Tanzania that assessed the quality of provision of essential newborn care and newborn resuscitation.
Methods
Cross-sectional health facility surveys were conducted pre-intervention (2010) and post intervention (2012) in 52 health facilities in the program implementation area. Essential newborn care provided by health care providers immediately following birth was observed for 489 newborns in 2010 and 560 in 2012; actual management of newborns with trouble breathing were observed in 2010 (n = 18) and 2012 (n = 40). Assessments of health worker knowledge were conducted with case studies (2010, n = 206; 2012, n = 217) and a simulated resuscitation using a newborn mannequin (2010, n = 299; 2012, n = 213). Facility audits assessed facility readiness for essential newborn care.
Results
Index scores for quality of observed essential newborn care showed significant overall improvement following the quality-of-care intervention, from 39% to 73% (p <0.0001). Health worker knowledge using a case study significantly improved as well, from 23% to 41% (p <0.0001) but skills in resuscitation using a newborn mannequin were persistently low. Availability of essential newborn care supplies, which was high at baseline in the regional hospitals, improved at the lower-level health facilities.
Conclusions
Within two years, the quality improvement program was successful in raising the quality of essential newborn care services in the program facilities. Some gaps in newborn care were persistent, notably practical skills in newborn resuscitation. Continued investment in life-saving improvements to newborn care through the health services is a priority for reduction of newborn mortality in Tanzania.
doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0381-3
PMCID: PMC4247559  PMID: 25406496
Essential newborn care; Newborn resuscitation; Newborn health; Quality of care; Tanzania
10.  Main Report 
Genetics in Medicine  2006;8(Suppl 1):12S-252S.
Background:
States vary widely in their use of newborn screening tests, with some mandating screening for as few as three conditions and others mandating as many as 43 conditions, including varying numbers of the 40+ conditions that can be detected by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). There has been no national guidance on the best candidate conditions for newborn screening since the National Academy of Sciences report of 19751 and the United States Congress Office of Technology Assessment report of 1988,2 despite rapid developments since then in genetics, in screening technologies, and in some treatments.
Objectives:
In 2002, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) commissioned the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) to: Conduct an analysis of the scientific literature on the effectiveness of newborn screening.Gather expert opinion to delineate the best evidence for screening for specified conditions and develop recommendations focused on newborn screening, including but not limited to the development of a uniform condition panel.Consider other components of the newborn screening system that are critical to achieving the expected outcomes in those screened.
Methods:
A group of experts in various areas of subspecialty medicine and primary care, health policy, law, public health, and consumers worked with a steering committee and several expert work groups, using a two-tiered approach to assess and rank conditions. A first step was developing a set of principles to guide the analysis. This was followed by developing criteria by which conditions could be evaluated, and then identifying the conditions to be evaluated. A large and broadly representative group of experts was asked to provide their opinions on the extent to which particular conditions met the selected criteria, relying on supporting evidence and references from the scientific literature. The criteria were distributed among three main categories for each condition: The availability and characteristics of the screening test;The availability and complexity of diagnostic services; andThe availability and efficacy of treatments related to the conditions. A survey process utilizing a data collection instrument was used to gather expert opinion on the conditions in the first tier of the assessment. The data collection format and survey provided the opportunity to quantify expert opinion and to obtain the views of a diverse set of interest groups (necessary due to the subjective nature of some of the criteria). Statistical analysis of data produced a score for each condition, which determined its ranking and initial placement in one of three categories (high scoring, moderately scoring, or low scoring/absence of a newborn screening test). In the second tier of these analyses, the evidence base related to each condition was assessed in depth (e.g., via systematic reviews of reference lists including MedLine, PubMed and others; books; Internet searches; professional guidelines; clinical evidence; and cost/economic evidence and modeling). The fact sheets reflecting these analyses were evaluated by at least two acknowledged experts for each condition. These experts assessed the data and the associated references related to each criterion and provided corrections where appropriate, assigned a value to the level of evidence and the quality of the studies that established the evidence base, and determined whether there were significant variances from the survey data. Survey results were subsequently realigned with the evidence obtained from the scientific literature during the second-tier analysis for all objective criteria, based on input from at least three acknowledged experts in each condition. The information from these two tiers of assessment was then considered with regard to the overriding principles and other technology or condition-specific recommendations. On the basis of this information, conditions were assigned to one of three categories as described above:Core Panel;Secondary Targets (conditions that are part of the differential diagnosis of a core panel condition.); andNot Appropriate for Newborn Screening (either no newborn screening test is available or there is poor performance with regard to multiple other evaluation criteria).
ACMG also considered features of optimal newborn screening programs beyond the tests themselves by assessing the degree to which programs met certain goals (e.g., availability of educational programs, proportions of newborns screened and followed up). Assessments were based on the input of experts serving in various capacities in newborn screening programs and on 2002 data provided by the programs of the National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center (NNSGRC). In addition, a brief cost-effectiveness assessment of newborn screening was conducted.
Results:
Uniform panel
A total of 292 individuals determined to be generally representative of the regional distribution of the United States population and of areas of expertise or involvement in newborn screening provided a total of 3,949 evaluations of 84 conditions. For each condition, the responses of at least three experts in that condition were compared with those of all respondents for that condition and found to be consistent. A score of 1,200 on the data collection instrument provided a logical separation point between high scoring conditions (1,200–1,799 of a possible 2,100) and low scoring (<1,000) conditions. A group of conditions with intermediate scores (1,000–1,199) was identified, all of which were part of the differential diagnosis of a high scoring condition or apparent in the result of the multiplex assay. Some are identified by screening laboratories and others by diagnostic laboratories. This group was designated as a “secondary target” category for which the program must report the diagnostic result.
Using the validated evidence base and expert opinion, each condition that had previously been assigned to a category based on scores gathered through the data collection instrument was reconsidered. Again, the factors taken into consideration were: 1) available scientific evidence; 2) availability of a screening test; 3) presence of an efficacious treatment; 4) adequate understanding of the natural history of the condition; and 5) whether the condition was either part of the differential diagnosis of another condition or whether the screening test results related to a clinically significant condition.
The conditions were then assigned to one of three categories as previously described (core panel, secondary targets, or not appropriate for Newborn Screening).
Among the 29 conditions assigned to the core panel are three hemoglobinopathies associated with a Hb/S allele, six amino acidurias, five disorders of fatty oxidation, nine organic acidurias, and six unrelated conditions (congenital hypothyroidism (CH), biotinidase deficiency (BIOT), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), classical galactosemia (GALT), hearing loss (HEAR) and cystic fibrosis (CF)). Twenty-three of the 29 conditions in the core panel are identified with multiplex technologies such as tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) or high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). On the basis of the evidence, six of the 35 conditions initially placed in the core panel were moved into the secondary target category, which expanded to 25 conditions. Test results not associated with potential disease in the infant (e.g., carriers) were also placed in the secondary target category. When newborn screening laboratory results definitively establish carrier status, the result should be made available to the health care professional community and families. Twenty-seven conditions were determined to be inappropriate for newborn screening at this time.
Conditions with limited evidence reported in the scientific literature were more difficult to evaluate, quantify and place in one of the three categories. In addition, many conditions were found to occur in multiple forms distinguished by age-of-onset, severity, or other features. Further, unless a condition was already included in newborn screening programs, there was a potential for bias in the information related to some criteria. In such circumstances, the quality of the studies underlying the data such as expert opinion that considered case reports and reasoning from first principles determined the placement of the conditions into particular categories.
Newborn screening program optimization
– Assessment of the activities of newborn screening programs, based on program reports, was done for the six program components: education; screening; follow-up; diagnostic confirmation; management; and program evaluation. Considerable variation was found between programs with regard to whether particular aspects (e.g., prenatal education program availability, tracking of specimen collection and delivery) were included and the degree to which they are provided. Newborn screening program evaluation systems also were assessed in order to determine their adequacy and uniformity with the goal being to improve interprogram evaluation and comparison to ensure that the expected outcomes from having been identified in screening are realized.
Conclusions:
The state of the published evidence in the fast-moving worlds of newborn screening and medical genetics has not kept up with the implementation of new technologies, thus requiring the considerable use of expert opinion to develop recommendations about a core panel of conditions for newborn screening. Twenty-nine conditions were identified as primary targets for screening from which all components of the newborn screening system should be maximized. An additional 25 conditions were listed that could be identified in the course of screening for core panel conditions. Programs are obligated to establish a diagnosis and communicate the result to the health care provider and family. It is recognized that screening may not have been maximized for the detection of these secondary conditions but that some proportion of such cases may be found among those screened for core panel conditions. With additional screening, greater training of primary care health care professionals and subspecialists will be needed, as will the development of an infrastructure for appropriate follow-up and management throughout the lives of children who have been identified as having one of these rare conditions. Recommended actions to overcome barriers to an optimal newborn screening system include: The establishment of a national role in the scientific evaluation of conditions and the technologies by which they are screened;Standardization of case definitions and reporting procedures;Enhanced oversight of hospital-based screening activities;Long-term data collection and surveillance; andConsideration of the financial needs of programs to allow them to deliver the appropriate services to the screened population.
doi:10.1097/01.gim.0000223467.60151.02
PMCID: PMC3109899
11.  Basic newborn care and neonatal resuscitation: a multi-country analysis of health system bottlenecks and potential solutions 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2015;15(Suppl 2):S4.
Background
An estimated two-thirds of the world's 2.7 million newborn deaths could be prevented with quality care at birth and during the postnatal period. Basic Newborn Care (BNC) is part of the solution and includes hygienic birth and newborn care practices including cord care, thermal care, and early and exclusive breastfeeding. Timely provision of resuscitation if needed is also critical to newborn survival. This paper describes health system barriers to BNC and neonatal resuscitation and proposes solutions to scale up evidence-based strategies.
Methods
The maternal and newborn bottleneck analysis tool was applied by 12 countries in Africa and Asia as part of the Every Newborn Action Plan process. Country workshops engaged technical experts to complete the survey tool, which is designed to synthesise and grade health system "bottlenecks" that hinder the scale up of maternal-newborn intervention packages. We used quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse the bottleneck data, combined with literature review, to present priority bottlenecks and actions relevant to different health system building blocks for BNC and neonatal resuscitation.
Results
Eleven of the 12 countries provided grading data. Overall, bottlenecks were graded more severely for resuscitation. The most severely graded bottlenecks for BNC were health workforce (8 of 11 countries), health financing (9 out of 11) and service delivery (7 out of 9); and for neonatal resuscitation, workforce (9 out of 10), essential commodities (9 out of 10) and service delivery (8 out of 10). Country teams from Africa graded bottlenecks overall more severely. Improving workforce performance, availability of essential commodities, and well-integrated health service delivery were the key solutions proposed.
Conclusions
BNC was perceived to have the least health system challenges among the seven maternal and newborn intervention packages assessed. Although neonatal resuscitation bottlenecks were graded more severe than for BNC, similarities particularly in the workforce and service delivery building blocks highlight the inextricable link between the two interventions and the need to equip birth attendants with requisite skills and commodities to assess and care for every newborn. Solutions highlighted by country teams include ensuring more investment to improve workforce performance and distribution, especially numbers of skilled birth attendants, incentives for placement in challenging settings, and skills-based training particularly for neonatal resuscitation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-15-S2-S4
PMCID: PMC4577863  PMID: 26391000
Quality of care; bottleneck analysis; Africa; Asia; health system; resuscitation; basic newborn care
12.  Infrastructural challenges to better health in maternity facilities in rural Kenya: community and healthworker perceptions 
Reproductive Health  2015;12:103.
Background
The efforts and commitments to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and newborn health (MDGs 4 and 5) in low and middle income countries have focused primarily on providing key medical interventions at maternity facilities to save the lives of women at the time of childbirth, as well as their babies. However, in most rural communities in sub-Saharan, access to maternal and newborn care services is still limited and even where services are available they often lack the infrastructural prerequisites to function at the very basic level in providing essential routine health care services, let alone emergency care. Lists of essential interventions for normal and complicated childbirth, do not take into account these prerequisites, thus the needs of most health facilities in rural communities are ignored, although there is enough evidence that maternal and newborn deaths continue to remain unacceptably high in these areas.
Methods
This study uses data gathered through qualitative interviews in Kitonyoni and Mwania sub-locations of Makueni County in Eastern Kenya to understand community and provider perceptions of the obstacles faced in providing and accessing maternal and newborn care at health facilities in their localities.
Results
The study finds that the community perceives various challenges, most of which are infrastructural, including lack of electricity, water and poor roads that adversely impact the provision and access to essential life-saving maternal and newborn care services in the two sub-locations.
Conclusions
The findings and recommendations from this study are important for the attention of policy makers and programme managers in order to improve the state of lower-tier health facilities serving rural communities and to strengthen infrastructure with the aim of making basic routine and emergency obstetric and newborn care services more accessible.
doi:10.1186/s12978-015-0078-8
PMCID: PMC4640392  PMID: 26553004
13.  Nairobi Newborn Study: a protocol for an observational study to estimate the gaps in provision and quality of inpatient newborn care in Nairobi City County, Kenya 
BMJ Open  2016;6(12):e012448.
Introduction
Progress has been made in Kenya towards reducing child mortality as part of efforts aligned with the fourth Millennium Development Goal. However, little advancement has been made in reducing mortality among newborns, which now accounts for 45% of all child deaths. The frequently unanticipated nature of neonatal illness, its severity and the high dependency of sick newborns on skilled care make the provision of inpatient hospital services one key component of strategies to improve newborn survival.
Methods and analyses
This project aims to assess the availability and quality of inpatient newborn care in hospitals in Nairobi City County across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and align this to the estimated need for such services, providing a description of the quantity and quality gaps between capacity and demand. The population level burden of disease will be estimated using morbidity incidence estimates from a literature review applied to subcounty estimates of population-adjusted births, providing a spatially disaggregated estimate of need within the county. This will be followed by a survey of neonatal services across all health facilities providing 24/7 inpatient newborn care in the county. The survey will include: a retrospective audit of admission registers to estimate the usage of facilities and case-mix of patients; a structural assessment of facilities to gain insight into capacity; a questionnaire to nursing staff focusing on the process of delivering key obstetric and neonatal interventions; and a retrospective case audit to assess adherence to guidelines by clinicians.
Ethics and dissemination
This study has been approved by the Kenya Medical Research Institute Scientific and Ethics Review Unit (SSC protocol No.2999). Results will be disseminated: to participating facilities through individualised reports and a joint workshop; to local and national stakeholders through meetings and a summary report; and to the international community through peer-review publication and international meetings.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012448
PMCID: PMC5223685  PMID: 28003285
Newborns; EPIDEMIOLOGY; Africa
14.  The Influence of Distance and Level of Care on Delivery Place in Rural Zambia: A Study of Linked National Data in a Geographic Information System 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000394.
Using linked national data in a geographic information system system, Sabine Gabrysch and colleagues investigate the effects of distance to care and level of care on women's use of health facilities for delivery in rural Zambia.
Background
Maternal and perinatal mortality could be reduced if all women delivered in settings where skilled attendants could provide emergency obstetric care (EmOC) if complications arise. Research on determinants of skilled attendance at delivery has focussed on household and individual factors, neglecting the influence of the health service environment, in part due to a lack of suitable data. The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of distance to care and level of care on women's use of health facilities for delivery in rural Zambia, and to compare their population impact to that of other important determinants.
Methods and Findings
Using a geographic information system (GIS), we linked national household data from the Zambian Demographic and Health Survey 2007 with national facility data from the Zambian Health Facility Census 2005 and calculated straight-line distances. Health facilities were classified by whether they provided comprehensive EmOC (CEmOC), basic EmOC (BEmOC), or limited or substandard services. Multivariable multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the influence of distance to care and level of care on place of delivery (facility or home) for 3,682 rural births, controlling for a wide range of confounders. Only a third of rural Zambian births occurred at a health facility, and half of all births were to mothers living more than 25 km from a facility of BEmOC standard or better. As distance to the closest health facility doubled, the odds of facility delivery decreased by 29% (95% CI, 14%–40%). Independently, each step increase in level of care led to 26% higher odds of facility delivery (95% CI, 7%–48%). The population impact of poor geographic access to EmOC was at least of similar magnitude as that of low maternal education, household poverty, or lack of female autonomy.
Conclusions
Lack of geographic access to emergency obstetric care is a key factor explaining why most rural deliveries in Zambia still occur at home without skilled care. Addressing geographic and quality barriers is crucial to increase service use and to lower maternal and perinatal mortality. Linking datasets using GIS has great potential for future research and can help overcome the neglect of health system factors in research and policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Approximately 360,000 women die each year in pregnancy and childbirth, of which more than 200,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, where a woman's lifetime risk of dying during or following pregnancy remains as high as 1 in 31 (compared to 1 in 4,300 in the developed world). The target of Millennium Development Goal 5 is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters by 2015. Most maternal and neonatal deaths in low-income countries could be prevented if all women delivered their babies in settings where skilled birth attendants (such as midwives) were available and could provide emergency obstetric care to both mothers and babies in case of complications. Yet every year roughly 50 million women give birth at home without skilled care.
Why was this study done?
The likelihood of a woman giving birth in a health facility under the care of a skilled birth attendant depends on many factors. These include characteristics of the mother and her family, such as education level and household wealth, and aspects of the health service environment—distance to the nearest health facility and the quality of care provided at that facility, for example. However, research to date has typically focused on household and individual factors, neglecting the influence of the health service environment on choice of delivery place, largely because suitable data was not available. In this study in rural Zambia, the researchers aimed to quantify the effects of the health service environment, namely distance to health care and the level of care provided, on pregnant women's use of health facilities for giving birth. To put these factors in context, the researchers compared the impact of distance to quality care on place of delivery to that of other important factors, such as poverty and education.
What did the researchers do and find?
Using a geographic information system (GIS), the researchers linked national household data (from the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey) with national facility data (from the 2005 Zambian Health Facility Census) and calculated straight-line distances between women's villages and health facilities. Health facilities were classified as providing comprehensive emergency obstetric care, basic emergency obstetric care, or limited or substandard services by using reported capability to perform a certain number of the eight emergency obstetric care signal functions: injectable antibiotics, injectable oxytocics, injectable anticonvulsants, manual removal of placenta, manual removal of retained products, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean section, and blood transfusion, as well as criteria on staffing, opening hours and referral capacity. The researchers used data from 3,682 rural births and multivariable multilevel logistic regression analyses to investigate whether distance to, and level of care at the closest delivery facility influence place of delivery (health facility or home), keeping other influential factors constant.
The researchers found that only a third of births in rural Zambia occurred at a health facility, and half of all mothers who gave birth lived more than 25 km from a health facility that provided basic emergency obstetric services. As distance to the closest health facility doubled, the odds of a women giving birth in a health facility decreased by 29%. Independently, each step increase in the level of emergency obstetric care provided at the closest delivery facility led to an increased likelihood (26% higher odds) of a woman delivering her baby at a facility. The researchers estimated that the impact of poor geographic access to emergency obstetric services was of similar magnitude as that of low maternal education, household poverty, or lack of female autonomy.
What do these findings mean?
The results of this study suggest that poor geographic access to emergency obstetric care is a key factor in explaining why most women in rural Zambia still deliver their babies at home without skilled care. Therefore, in order to increase the number of women delivering in health facilities and thus reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, it is crucial to address the geographic and quality barriers to delivery service use. Furthermore, the methodology used in this study—linking datasets using GIS— has great potential for future research as it can help explore the influence of health system factors also for other health problems.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000394.
Information about emergency obstetric care is provided by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Various topics on maternal health are presented by WHO, WHO Regional Office Africa, by UNPFA, and UNICEF
WHO offers detailed information about MDG5
Family Care International offers more information about maternal and neonatal health
The Averting Maternal Death and Disability program (AMDD) provides information on needs assessments of emergency obstetric and newborn care
Countdown to 2015 tracks progress in maternal, newborn, and child survival
WHO provides free online viewing of BBC Fight for Life videos describing delivery experiences in different countries
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000394
PMCID: PMC3026699  PMID: 21283606
15.  Inpatient care of small and sick newborns: a multi-country analysis of health system bottlenecks and potential solutions 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2015;15(Suppl 2):S7.
Background
Preterm birth is the leading cause of child death worldwide. Small and sick newborns require timely, high-quality inpatient care to survive. This includes provision of warmth, feeding support, safe oxygen therapy and effective phototherapy with prevention and treatment of infections. Inpatient care for newborns requires dedicated ward space, staffed by health workers with specialist training and skills. Many of the estimated 2.8 million newborns that die every year do not have access to such specialised care.
Methods
The bottleneck analysis tool was applied in 12 countries in Africa and Asia as part of the Every Newborn Action Plan process. Country workshops involved technical experts to complete the survey tool, which is designed to synthesise and grade health system "bottlenecks" (or factors that hinder the scale up) of maternal-newborn intervention packages. For this paper, we used quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse the bottleneck data, and combined these with literature review, to present priority bottlenecks and actions relevant to different health system building blocks for inpatient care of small and sick newborns.
Results
Inpatient care of small and sick newborns is an intervention package highlighted by all country workshop participants as having critical health system challenges. Health system building blocks with the highest graded (significant or major) bottlenecks were health workforce (10 out of 12 countries) and health financing (10 out of 12 countries), followed by community ownership and partnership (9 out of 12 countries). Priority actions based on solution themes for these bottlenecks are discussed.
Conclusions
Whilst major bottlenecks to the scale-up of quality inpatient newborn care are present, effective solutions exist. For all countries included, there is a critical need for a neonatal nursing cadre. Small and sick newborns require increased, sustained funding with specific insurance schemes to cover inpatient care and avoid catastrophic out-of-pocket payments. Core competencies, by level of care, should be defined for monitoring of newborn inpatient care, as with emergency obstetric care. Rather than fatalism that small and sick newborns will die, community interventions need to create demand for accessible, high-quality, family-centred inpatient care, including kangaroo mother care, so that every newborn can survive and thrive.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-15-S2-S7
PMCID: PMC4577807  PMID: 26391335
Sick newborn; preterm; special care; neonatal nurse; inpatient care; facility; bottlenecks; health systems
16.  Primary healthcare worker knowledge related to prenatal and immediate newborn care: a cross sectional study in Masindi, Uganda 
Background
Global neonatal mortality remains unacceptably high. Health workers who attend to prenatal and postnatal mothers need to be knowledgeable in preventive and curative care for pregnant women and their newborn babies. This study aimed to determine the level of knowledge related to prenatal and immediate newborn care among primary healthcare workers in Masindi, Uganda.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted. Interviews comprised of 25 multiple-choice questions were administered to health workers who were deployed to offer prenatal and postnatal care in Masindi in November 2011. Questions were related to four domains of knowledge: prenatal care, immediate newborn care, management of neonatal infections and identifying and stabilizing Low-Birth Weight (LBW) babies. Corresponding composite variables were derived; level of knowledge among health workers dichotomized as ‘adequate’ or ‘inadequate’. The chi-square statistic test was used to examine associations with independent variables including level of training (nursing assistant, general nurse or midwife), level of care (hospital/health centre level IV or health centre level III/II) and years of service (five years or less, six years or more).
Results
183 health workers were interviewed: general nurses (39.3%), midwives (21.9%) and nursing assistants (38.8%). Respectively, 53.6%, 46.5%, 7.1% and 56.3% were considered to have adequate knowledge in prenatal care, newborn care, management of neonatal infections and identifying/stabilizing LBW babies. Being a general nurse was significantly associated with having adequate knowledge in identifying and stabilizing LBW babies (p < 0.001) compared to being a nursing assistant. Level of care being hospital/health centre level IV was not significantly associated with having adequate knowledge in prenatal or newborn care with reference to health centres of level III/II.
Conclusion
Knowledge regarding prenatal and newborn care among primary healthcare workers in Masindi was very low. The highest deficit of knowledge was in management of neonatal infections. Efforts are needed to orientate health workers regarding prenatal and newborn care especially the offer of infection management among newborns. Similar levels of knowledge between health workers deployed to hospital/health centre level IV and health centres of level III/II raise important implementation questions for the referral system which is crucial for maternal and newborn survival.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-65
PMCID: PMC3931348  PMID: 24511880
17.  The safety and quality of childbirth in the context of health systems: mapping maternal health provision in Lebanon 
Midwifery  2010;26(5-2):549-557.
Objective
to provide basic information on the distribution (public/private and geographically) and the nature of maternity health provision in Lebanon, including relevant health outcome data at the hospital level in order to compare key features of provision with maternal/neonatal health outcomes.
Design
a self-completion questionnaire was sent to private hospitals by the Syndicate of Private Hospitals in collaboration with the study team and to all public hospitals in Lebanon with a functioning maternity ward by the study team in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health.
Setting
childbirth in an institutional setting by a trained attendant is almost universal in Lebanon and the predominant model of care is obstetrician-led rather than midwife-led. Yet due to a 15-year-old civil war and a highly privatised health sector, Lebanon lacks systematic or publically available data on the organisation, distribution and quality of maternal health services. An accreditation system for private hospitals was recently initiated to regulate the quality of hospital care in Lebanon.
Participants
in total, 58 (out of 125 eligible) hospitals responded to the survey (46% total response rate). Only hospital-level aggregate data were collected.
Measurements
the survey addressed the volume of services, mode of payment for deliveries, number of health providers, number of labour and childbirth units, availability of neonatal intensive care units, fetal monitors and infusion rate regulation pumps for oxytocin, as well as health outcome data related to childbirth care and stillbirths for the year 2008.
Findings
the study provides the first data on maternal health provision from a survey of all eligible hospitals in Lebanon. More than three-quarters of deliveries occur in private hospitals, but the Ministry of Public Health is the single most important source of payment for childbirth. The reported hospital caesarean section rate is high at 40.8%. Essential equipment for safe maternal and newborn health care is widely available in Lebanon, but over half of the hospitals that responded lack a neonatal intensive care unit. The ratio of reported numbers of midwives to deliveries is three times that of obstetricians to deliveries.
Key conclusions and implications for practice
there is a need for greater interaction between maternal/neonatal health, health system specialists and policy makers on how the health system can support both the adoption of evidence-based interventions and, ultimately, better maternal and perinatal health outcomes.
doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.06.012
PMCID: PMC2989442  PMID: 20691519
Maternal health; Safety; Health system
18.  Effectiveness of a Home-Based Counselling Strategy on Neonatal Care and Survival: A Cluster-Randomised Trial in Six Districts of Rural Southern Tanzania 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(9):e1001881.
Background
We report a cluster-randomised trial of a home-based counselling strategy, designed for large-scale implementation, in a population of 1.2 million people in rural southern Tanzania. We hypothesised that the strategy would improve neonatal survival by around 15%.
Methods and Findings
In 2010 we trained 824 female volunteers to make three home visits to women and their families during pregnancy and two visits to them in the first few days of the infant’s life in 65 wards, selected randomly from all 132 wards in six districts in Mtwara and Lindi regions, constituting typical rural areas in Southern Tanzania. The remaining wards were comparison areas. Participants were not blinded to the intervention. The primary analysis was an intention-to-treat analysis comparing the neonatal mortality (day 0–27) per 1,000 live births in intervention and comparison wards based on a representative survey in 185,000 households in 2013 with a response rate of 90%. We included 24,381 and 23,307 live births between July 2010 and June 2013 and 7,823 and 7,555 live births in the last year in intervention and comparison wards, respectively. We also compared changes in neonatal mortality and newborn care practices in intervention and comparison wards using baseline census data from 2007 including 225,000 households and 22,243 births in five of the six intervention districts. Amongst the 7,823 women with a live birth in the year prior to survey in intervention wards, 59% and 41% received at least one volunteer visit during pregnancy and postpartum, respectively. Neonatal mortality reduced from 35.0 to 30.5 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2007 and 2013 in the five districts, respectively. There was no evidence of an impact of the intervention on neonatal survival (odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9–1.2, p = 0.339). Newborn care practices reported by mothers were better in intervention than in comparison wards, including immediate breastfeeding (42% of 7,287 versus 35% of 7,008, OR 1.4, CI 1.3–1.6, p < 0.001), feeding only breast milk for the first 3 d (90% of 7,557 versus 79% of 7,307, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.8–2.7, p < 0.001), and clean hands for home delivery (92% of 1,351 versus 88% of 1,799, OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0–2.3, p = 0.033). Facility delivery improved dramatically in both groups from 41% of 22,243 in 2007 and was 82% of 7,820 versus 75% of 7,553 (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2–2.0, p = 0.002) in intervention and comparison wards in 2013. Methodological limitations include our inability to rule out some degree of leakage of the intervention into the comparison areas and response bias for newborn care behaviours.
Conclusion
Neonatal mortality remained high despite better care practices and childbirth in facilities becoming common. Public health action to improve neonatal survival in this setting should include a focus on improving the quality of facility-based childbirth care.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01022788
Editors' Summary
Background
In 1990, 12 million children—most of them living in resource-limited countries—died before their fifth birthday. Faced with this largely avoidable loss of young lives, in 2000, world leaders set a target of reducing under-five mortality (deaths) to one-third of its 1990 level by 2015 as Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4); this goal, together with seven others, aims to eradicate extreme poverty globally. Progress towards reducing under-five mortality has been good. However, MDG4 has not been met because of slow progress in reducing neonatal mortality—death during the first 28 days of life. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, mortality during the first five years of life fell by 47% between 1990 and 2012, whereas neonatal mortality fell by only 28%. Consequently, neonatal deaths now account for a greater proportion of global child deaths than in 1990, and every year there are still 3 million neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts estimate that advising mothers during pregnancy and in the days following delivery (the early postpartum period) about good delivery and newborn care practices could prevent a quarter of neonatal deaths. WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) therefore recommend that all mothers in areas with high neonatal mortality should receive two home visits during the early postpartum period to assess the newborn’s health and to counsel mothers on newborn care practices. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers investigate the effect on neonatal care and survival in rural southern Tanzania, a low-resource setting, of a volunteer-led home-based counseling strategy that meets these recommendations. The neonatal mortality rate (NMR) has declined markedly in recent years in Tanzania but varies widely across the country. A cluster randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people (here, women living in different “wards” consisting of three or four villages) to receive alternative interventions and compares outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated baseline neonatal mortality in five rural districts in southern Tanzania (35 deaths per 1,000 live births) from a 2007 census. In early 2010, they trained 824 female volunteers to deliver key counseling messages (including messages about handwashing with soap before delivery and early and exclusive breast feeding) and supporting messages such as the importance of childbirth in a health care facility. The volunteers were asked to make three home visits during pregnancy and two home visits shortly after delivery to women living in 65 intervention wards in six rural Tanzanian districts (a district not included in the baseline census was included in the trial); 67 comparison wards did not receive the intervention. A 2013 survey of households indicated that, in the intervention wards, 59% of women received at least one volunteer visit during pregnancy and 41% received at least one visit postpartum. Neonatal mortality reduced from 35 to 31 and 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in the intervention and comparison wards, respectively, in the five districts with baseline data. Newborn care practices reported by mothers were better in the intervention wards than in the comparison wards. For example, 42% and 35% of the women in the intervention and comparison wards, respectively, reported immediate breast feeding. Finally, childbirth in a health care facility increased from 41% in 2007 to 82% and 75% in 2013 in the intervention and comparison wards, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide no evidence for an effect on neonatal survival of the home-based counseling strategy tested here even though the intervention improved newborn care practices. Notably, although many of the women in the intervention wards received antenatal visits from the trained volunteers, fewer women received early postpartum visits, a finding that could be partly responsible for the lack of effectiveness of the intervention. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by certain aspects of the trial design. For example, some of the women in the comparison areas may have inadvertently received part of the intervention (“leakage”). In addition, newborn care practises improved much in both, intervention and comparison areas, included a doubling of facility delivery. Nevertheless, the lack of an effect of the intervention on neonatal mortality despite a moderate effect on newborn care behaviours throws some doubt on the existing evidence base in support of home-based counselling as an intervention to reduce neonatal mortality. Finally, the finding that childbirth in a health care facility increased during the study period without a concomitant reduction in neonatal mortality highlights the need to improve the quality of facility-based childbirth care in rural southern Tanzania and, possibly, in other resource-limited settings.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001881.
WHO provides information on global efforts to reduce child mortality and on ending preventable neonatal deaths (available in several languages); its 2009 recommendations, "Home Visits for the Newborn Child. A Strategy to Improve Survival," are available
UNICEF works for children’s rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information about MDG4 and about child health in Tanzania; its website provides detailed statistics about child health; its Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed—Progress Report 2014 addresses neonatal mortality
The Millennium Development Goals 2015 Report is available
The Healthy Newborn Network is an online community of more than 80 partner organizations that addresses critical knowledge gaps in newborn health
More information about the trial described here is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001881
PMCID: PMC4587813  PMID: 26418813
19.  Strengthening health facilities for maternal and newborn care: experiences from rural eastern Uganda 
Global Health Action  2015;8:10.3402/gha.v8.24271.
Background
In Uganda maternal and neonatal mortality remains high due to a number of factors, including poor quality of care at health facilities.
Objective
This paper describes the experience of building capacity for maternal and newborn care at a district hospital and lower-level health facilities in eastern Uganda within the existing system parameters and a robust community outreach programme.
Design
This health system strengthening study, part of the Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST), aimed to increase frontline health worker capacity through district-led training, support supervision, and mentoring at one district hospital and 19 lower-level facilities. A once-off supply of essential medicines and equipment was provided to address immediate critical gaps. Health workers were empowered to requisition subsequent supplies through use of district resources. Minimal infrastructure adjustments were provided. Quantitative data collection was done within routine process monitoring and qualitative data were collected during support supervision visits. We use the World Health Organization Health System Building Blocks to describe the process of district-led health facility strengthening.
Results
Seventy two per cent of eligible health workers were trained. The mean post-training knowledge score was 68% compared to 32% in the pre-training test, and 80% 1 year later. Health worker skills and competencies in care of high-risk babies improved following support supervision and mentoring. Health facility deliveries increased from 3,151 to 4,115 (a 30% increase) in 2 years. Of 547 preterm babies admitted to the newly introduced kangaroo mother care (KMC) unit, 85% were discharged alive to continue KMC at home. There was a non-significant declining trend for in-hospital neonatal deaths across the 2-year study period. While equipment levels remained high after initial improvement efforts, maintaining supply of even the most basic medications was a challenge, with less than 40% of health facilities reporting no stock-outs.
Conclusion
Health system strengthening for care at birth and the newborn period is possible even in low-resource settings and can be associated with improved utilisation and outcomes. Through a participatory process with wide engagement, training, and improvements to support supervision and logistics, health workers were able to change behaviours and practices for maternal and newborn care. Local solutions are needed to ensure sustainability of medical commodities.
doi:10.3402/gha.v8.24271
PMCID: PMC4385205  PMID: 25843496
health system strengthening; maternal care; newborn care; neonatal mortality; kangaroo mother care; Uganda
20.  The status of maternal and newborn health care services in Zanzibar 
Background
It is estimated that 287,000 women worldwide die annually from pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions, and 6.9 million under-five children die each year, of which about 3 million are newborns. Most of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The maternal health situation in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar is similar to other sub-Saharan countries. This study assessed the availability, accessibility and quality of emergency obstetric care services and essential resources available for maternal and child health services in Zanzibar.
Methods
From October and November 2012, a cross-sectional health facility survey was conducted in 79 health facilities in Zanzibar. The health facility tools developed by the Averting Maternal Death and Disability program were adapted for local use.
Results
Only 7.6 % of the health facilities qualified as functioning basic EmONC (Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care) facilities and 9 % were comprehensive EmONC facilities. Twenty-eight percent were partially performing basic EmONC and the remaining 55.7 % were not providing EmONC. Neonatal resuscitation was performed in 80 % of the hospitals and only 17.4 % of the other health facilities that were surveyed. Based on World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria, the study revealed a gap of 20 % for minimum provision of EmONC facilities per 500,000 population. The met need at national level (proportion of women with major direct obstetric complications treated in a health facility providing EmONC) was only 33.1 % in the 12 months preceding the survey. The study found that there was limited availability of human resources in all visited health facilities, particularly for the higher cadres, as per Zanzibar minimum staff requirements.
Conclusion
There is a need to strengthen human resource capacity at primary health facilities through training of health care providers to improve EmONC services, as well as provision of necessary equipment and supplies to reduce workload at the higher referral health facilities and increase geographic access.
doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0928-6
PMCID: PMC4893222  PMID: 27259480
Zanzibar; Emergency obstetric and newborn care; Signal functions
21.  Born Too Soon: Care for the preterm baby 
Reproductive Health  2013;10(Suppl 1):S5.
As part of a supplement entitled "Born Too Soon", this paper focuses on care of the preterm newborn. An estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, and the survival gap between those born in high and low income countries is widening, with one million deaths a year due to direct complications of preterm birth, and around one million more where preterm birth is a risk factor, especially amongst those who are also growth restricted. Most premature babies (>80%) are between 32 and 37 weeks of gestation, and many die needlessly for lack of simple care. We outline a series of packages of care that build on essential care for every newborn comprising support for immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, thermal care, and hygienic cord and skin care. For babies who do not breathe at birth, rapid neonatal resuscitation is crucial. Extra care for small babies, including Kangaroo Mother Care, and feeding support, can halve mortality in babies weighing <2000 g. Case management of newborns with signs of infection, safe oxygen management and supportive care for those with respiratory complications, and care for those with significant jaundice are all critical, and are especially dependent on competent nursing care. Neonatal intensive care units in high income settings are de-intensifying care, for example increasing use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and this makes comprehensive preterm care more transferable. For health systems in low and middle income settings with increasing facility births, district hospitals are the key frontier for improving obstetric and neonatal care, and some large scale programmes now include specific newborn care strategies. However there are still around 50 million births outside facilities, hence home visits for mothers and newborns, as well as women's groups are crucial for reaching these families, often the poorest. A fundamental challenge is improving programmatic tracking data for coverage and quality, and measuring disability-free survival. The power of parent's voices has been important in high-income countries in bringing attention to preterm newborns, but is still missing from the most affected countries.
Declaration
This article is part of a supplement jointly funded by Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme through a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and March of Dimes Foundation and published in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). The original article was published in PDF format in the WHO Report "Born Too Soon: the global action report on preterm birth" (ISBN 978 92 4 150343 30), which involved collaboration from more than 50 organizations. The article has been reformatted for journal publication and has undergone peer review according to Reproductive Health's standard process for supplements and may feature some variations in content when compared to the original report. This co-publication makes the article available to the community in a full-text format.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC3828583  PMID: 24625233
22.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
23.  Global Burden of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Children under Five, 2010–2050: Modelling Based on Demographics, Excess Mortality, and Interventions 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001484.
Frédéric Piel and colleagues combine national sickle cell anemia (SCA) frequencies with projected demographic data to estimate the number of SCA births in children under five globally from 2010 to 2050, and then estimate the number of lives that could be be saved following implementation of specific health interventions starting in 2015.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The global burden of sickle cell anaemia (SCA) is set to rise as a consequence of improved survival in high-prevalence low- and middle-income countries and population migration to higher-income countries. The host of quantitative evidence documenting these changes has not been assembled at the global level. The purpose of this study is to estimate trends in the future number of newborns with SCA and the number of lives that could be saved in under-five children with SCA by the implementation of different levels of health interventions.
Methods and Findings
First, we calculated projected numbers of newborns with SCA for each 5-y interval between 2010 and 2050 by combining estimates of national SCA frequencies with projected demographic data. We then accounted for under-five mortality (U5m) projections and tested different levels of excess mortality for children with SCA, reflecting the benefits of implementing specific health interventions for under-five patients in 2015, to assess the number of lives that could be saved with appropriate health care services. The estimated number of newborns with SCA globally will increase from 305,800 (confidence interval [CI]: 238,400–398,800) in 2010 to 404,200 (CI: 242,500–657,600) in 2050. It is likely that Nigeria (2010: 91,000 newborns with SCA [CI: 77,900–106,100]; 2050: 140,800 [CI: 95,500–200,600]) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2010: 39,700 [CI: 32,600–48,800]; 2050: 44,700 [CI: 27,100–70,500]) will remain the countries most in need of policies for the prevention and management of SCA. We predict a decrease in the annual number of newborns with SCA in India (2010: 44,400 [CI: 33,700–59,100]; 2050: 33,900 [CI: 15,900–64,700]). The implementation of basic health interventions (e.g., prenatal diagnosis, penicillin prophylaxis, and vaccination) for SCA in 2015, leading to significant reductions in excess mortality among under-five children with SCA, could, by 2050, prolong the lives of 5,302,900 [CI: 3,174,800–6,699,100] newborns with SCA. Similarly, large-scale universal screening could save the lives of up to 9,806,000 (CI: 6,745,800–14,232,700) newborns with SCA globally, 85% (CI: 81%–88%) of whom will be born in sub-Saharan Africa. The study findings are limited by the uncertainty in the estimates and the assumptions around mortality reductions associated with interventions.
Conclusions
Our quantitative approach confirms that the global burden of SCA is increasing, and highlights the need to develop specific national policies for appropriate public health planning, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Further empirical collaborative epidemiological studies are vital to assess current and future health care needs, especially in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and India.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
More than seven million babies are born each year with a structural or functional abnormality. Although some birth defects are caused by environmental factors, many are caused by the inheritance of a defective gene. One common inherited birth defect is sickle cell anemia (SCA). SCA arises when a baby inherits the gene for sickle hemoglobin (HbS), a structural variant of normal adult hemoglobin (HbA, the protein in the disc-shaped red blood cells that carry oxygen round the body), from both its parents. Every cell in the human body contains two full sets of genes, and babies inherit one set of genes from each parent. The parents usually each have one HbS gene and one HbA gene, and are unaffected. However, the red blood cells of their offspring who inherit two copies of HbS develop a sickle (crescent) shape. Sickle cells can block blood vessels in the limbs and organs and have a shorter lifespan than normal red blood cells, which causes anemia. Together, these changes can cause acute pain and organ damage, and can increase the risk of severe infections. SCA can be prevented by prenatal diagnosis and managed by interventions such as the provision of antibiotics and vaccination to prevent infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with SCA often die within the first few years of life. Having one copy of the HbS gene provides people with protection from malaria, therefore SCA occurs mainly in low- and middle-income countries in tropical regions, where early diagnosis and treatment is often unavailable. Recent improvements in overall infant and childhood survival in these countries and population migration to higher-income countries mean that the global burden of SCA is likely to increase over the coming decades. To date, no one has tried to quantify this increase, although this information is needed to guide decisions on public health spending. In this modeling study, the researchers assess the size of the expected global burden of SCA between 2010 and 2050 in children under five years old and estimate the number of newborn lives that might be saved by implementation of various health interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used estimates of national SCA frequencies and data on projected birth rates to calculate that the number of newborns with SCA will increase from about 305,800 in 2010 to about 404,200 in 2050. They estimated that Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and India accounted for 57% of newborns with SCA in 2010, and that Nigeria and the DRC will probably still be the countries most in need of policies for the prevention and management of SCA in 2050. The researchers then assessed how many newborns might be saved by the implementation of various health measures in 2015 that affect excess mortality (the difference between the frequency of SCA in newborns and in five-year-olds divided by the frequency of SCA in newborns) among children born with SCA. Implementation of prenatal diagnosis and newborn screening programs, and provision of antibiotics and vaccinations (interventions assumed by the researchers to reduce excess mortality from 90% to 50% in low- and middle-income countries and from 10% to 5% in high-income countries) could prolong the life of more than five million newborns with SCA by 2050. Implementation of universal screening and provision of other specific measures predicted to reduce excess mortality to 5% and 0% in low-to-middle-income countries and high-income countries, respectively, could save nearly ten million lives by 2050.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In estimating the global burden of SCA in children under five years old between 2010 and 2050 and the number of newborn lives that could be saved by implementation of health interventions, the researchers made numerous assumptions reflected in the uncertainty associated with the projections. For example, they assumed that implementation of specific interventions would lead to an immediate reduction of excess mortality in newborns with SCA. The study's findings confirm, however, that the global burden of SCA is increasing and indicate that the implementation of specific interventions could extend the lives of millions of newborns with SCA. Although further studies are needed to assess the current and future health care needs of children with SCA, these findings highlight the need to develop and implement national public health planning and funding policies for SCA, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001484.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Edward Fottrell and David Osrin
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides detailed information (including personal stories) about sickle cell anemia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information and a personal story about sickle cell anemia
The Sickle Cell Society, a UK-based not-for-profit organization, provides information for patients and carers and includes a children's website
The World Health Organization has a factsheet on sickle cell anemia and other inherited hemoglobin diseases (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about sickle cell anemia (in English and Spanish)
The Malaria Atlas Project provides epidemiological information on the inherited blood disorders (including sickle cell anemia) that affect our response to malaria infection
The Global Sickle Cell Disease Network is a portal bringing together leading sickle cell disease researchers and clinicians from high-, middle-, and low-income countries to form a network
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001484
PMCID: PMC3712914  PMID: 23874164
24.  Limited Effectiveness of a Skills and Drills Intervention to Improve Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care in Karnataka, India: A Proof-of-Concept Study 
Skills refresher training combined with emergency drills improved knowledge, skills, and confidence of providers but was not sufficient to improve diagnosis and management of maternal and newborn complications. Systems-level changes, including consistent availability of equipment and supplies, adequate human resource staffing, and supportive supervision, are likely needed to improve maternal and newborn outcomes.
Skills refresher training combined with emergency drills improved knowledge, skills, and confidence of providers but was not sufficient to improve diagnosis and management of maternal and newborn complications. Systems-level changes, including consistent availability of equipment and supplies, adequate human resource staffing, and supportive supervision, are likely needed to improve maternal and newborn outcomes.
ABSTRACT
Objective:
The majority of the maternal and perinatal deaths are preventable through improved emergency obstetric and newborn care at facilities. However, the quality of such care in India has significant gaps in terms of provider skills and in their preparedness to handle emergencies. We tested the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a “skills and drills” intervention, implemented between July 2013 and September 2014, to improve emergency obstetric and newborn care in the state of Karnataka, India.
Methods:
Emergency drills through role play, conducted every 2 months, combined with supportive supervision and a 2-day skills refresher session were delivered across 4 sub-district, secondary-level government facilities by an external team of obstetric and pediatric specialists and nurses. We evaluated the intervention through a quasi-experimental design with 4 intervention and 4 comparison facilities, using delivery case sheet reviews, pre- and post-knowledge tests among providers, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and qualitative in-depth interviews. Primary outcomes consisted of improved diagnosis and management of selected maternal and newborn complications (postpartum hemorrhage, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and birth asphyxia). Secondary outcomes included knowledge and skill levels of providers and acceptability and feasibility of the intervention.
Results:
Knowledge scores among providers improved significantly in the intervention facilities; in obstetrics, average scores between the pre- and post-test increased from 49% to 57% (P=.006) and in newborn care, scores increased from 48% to 56% (P=.03). Knowledge scores in the comparison facilities were similar but did not improve significantly over time. Skill levels were significantly higher among providers in intervention facilities than comparison facilities (mean objective structured clinical examination scores for obstetric skills: 55% vs. 46%, respectively; for newborn skills: 58% vs. 48%, respectively; P<.001 for both obstetric and newborn), along with their confidence in managing complications. However, this did not result in significant differences in correct diagnosis and management of complications between intervention and comparison facilities. Shortage of trained nurses and doctors along with unavailability of a consistent supply chain was cited by most providers as major health systems barriers affecting provision of care.
Conclusions:
Improvements in knowledge, skills, and confidence levels of providers as a result of the skills and drills intervention was not sufficient to translate into improved diagnosis and management of maternal and newborn complications. System-level changes including adequate in-service training may also be necessary to improve maternal and newborn outcomes.
doi:10.9745/GHSP-D-16-00143
PMCID: PMC5199176  PMID: 27993924
25.  Obstetric Facility Quality and Newborn Mortality in Malawi: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(10):e1002151.
Background
Ending preventable newborn deaths is a global health priority, but efforts to improve coverage of maternal and newborn care have not yielded expected gains in infant survival in many settings. One possible explanation is poor quality of clinical care. We assess facility quality and estimate the association of facility quality with neonatal mortality in Malawi.
Methods and Findings
Data on facility infrastructure as well as processes of routine and basic emergency obstetric care for all facilities in the country were obtained from 2013 Malawi Service Provision Assessment. Birth location and mortality for children born in the preceding two years were obtained from the 2013–2014 Millennium Development Goals Endline Survey. Facilities were classified as higher quality if they ranked in the top 25% of delivery facilities based on an index of 25 predefined quality indicators. To address risk selection (sicker mothers choosing or being referred to higher-quality facilities), we employed instrumental variable (IV) analysis to estimate the association of facility quality of care with neonatal mortality. We used the difference between distance to the nearest facility and distance to a higher-quality delivery facility as the instrument.
Four hundred sixty-seven of the 540 delivery facilities in Malawi, including 134 rated as higher quality, were linked to births in the population survey. The difference between higher- and lower-quality facilities was most pronounced in indicators of basic emergency obstetric care procedures. Higher-quality facilities were located a median distance of 3.3 km further from women than the nearest delivery facility and were more likely to be in urban areas.
Among the 6,686 neonates analyzed, the overall neonatal mortality rate was 17 per 1,000 live births. Delivery in a higher-quality facility (top 25%) was associated with a 2.3 percentage point lower newborn mortality (95% confidence interval [CI] -0.046, 0.000, p-value 0.047). These results imply a newborn mortality rate of 28 per 1,000 births at low-quality facilities and of 5 per 1,000 births at the top 25% of facilities, accounting for maternal and newborn characteristics. This estimate applies to newborns whose mothers would switch from a lower-quality to a higher-quality facility if one were more accessible. Although we did not find an indication of unmeasured associations between the instrument and outcome, this remains a potential limitation of IV analysis.
Conclusions
Poor quality of delivery facilities is associated with higher risk of newborn mortality in Malawi. A shift in focus from increasing utilization of delivery facilities to improving their quality is needed if global targets for further reductions in newborn mortality are to be achieved.
In a cross-sectional analysis, Hannah Leslie and colleagues examine the association between obstetric facility quality and newborn mortality in Malawi.
Author Summary
Why Was This Study Done?
Large increases in access to health facilities in many low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) have not produced equivalent gains in newborn survival.
Little data or evidence on the quality of delivery care in LMICs is currently available, and even less is known on the mortality impact of facility quality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
We designed and implemented a study of neonatal mortality in Malawi, where facility delivery is highly prevalent and a quality assessment of all health facilities was conducted in 2013–2014.
We quantified quality of maternal care at all delivery facilities based on 25 quality characteristics and classified the top 25% of facilities as higher quality. Average quality was low, with particular gaps in infrastructure and performance of basic emergency obstetric care procedures.
We linked a nationally representative sample of 6,686 births between November 2011 and March 2014 to their delivery facility and used multivariable linear regression models to estimate the impact of quality on neonatal mortality. To overcome selection issues, we used the relative proximity of higher-quality facilities as an instrument for facility quality.
Our empirical results suggest that delivering at a higher-quality facility is associated with a reduction of 23 deaths per 1,000 live births.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Expanded availability of health facilities does not guarantee access to essential elements of quality maternal and neonatal care.
Improvements in facility quality could reduce newborn deaths substantially among women who would receive higher-quality care if it were more accessible.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002151
PMCID: PMC5068819  PMID: 27755547

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