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1.  Delivery outcomes and patterns of morbidity and mortality for neonatal admissions in five Kenyan hospitals 
Journal of Tropical Pediatrics  2015;61(4):255-259.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in neonatal and maternity units of five Kenyan district public hospitals. Data for 1 year were obtained: 3999 maternal and 1836 neonatal records plus tallies of maternal deaths, deliveries and stillbirths. There were 40 maternal deaths [maternal mortality ratio: 276 per 100 000 live births, 95% confidence interval (CI): 197–376]. Fresh stillbirths ranged from 11 to 43 per 1000 births. A fifth (19%, 263 of 1384, 95% CI: 11–30%) of the admitted neonates died. Compared with normal birth weight, odds of death were significantly higher in all of the low birth weight (LBW, <2500 g) categories, with the highest odds for the extremely LBW (<1000 g) category (odds ratio: 59, 95% CI: 21–158, p < 0.01). The observed maternal mortality, stillbirths and neonatal mortality call for implementation of the continuum of care approach to intervention delivery with particular emphasis on LBW babies.
PMCID: PMC4514903  PMID: 25841436
Neonatal morbidity and mortality; maternal mortality; still births; hospital care; developing countries
2.  Assessment of neonatal care in clinical training facilities in Kenya 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2014;100(1):42-47.
An audit of neonatal care services provided by clinical training centres was undertaken to identify areas requiring improvement as part of wider efforts to improve newborn survival in Kenya.
Cross-sectional study using indicators based on prior work in Kenya. Statistical analyses were descriptive with adjustment for clustering of data.
Neonatal units of 22 public hospitals.
Neonates aged <7 days.
Main outcome measures
Quality of care was assessed in terms of availability of basic resources (principally equipment and drugs) and audit of case records for documentation of patient assessment and treatment at admission.
All hospitals had oxygen, 19/22 had resuscitation and phototherapy equipment, but some key resources were missing—for example kangaroo care was available in 14/22. Out of 1249 records, 56.9% (95% CI 36.2% to 77.6%) had a standard neonatal admission form. A median score of 0 out of 3 for symptoms of severe illness (IQR 0–3) and a median score of 6 out of 8 for signs of severe illness (IQR 4–7) were documented. Maternal HIV status was documented in 674/1249 (54%, 95% CI 41.9% to 66.1%) cases. Drug doses exceeded recommendations by >20% in prescriptions for penicillin (11.6%, 95% CI 3.4% to 32.8%) and gentamicin (18.5%, 95% CI 13.4% to 25%), respectively.
Basic resources are generally available, but there are deficiencies in key areas. Poor documentation limits the use of routine data for quality improvement. Significant opportunities exist for improvement in service delivery and adherence to guidelines in hospitals providing professional training.
PMCID: PMC4283661  PMID: 25138104
Neonatology; Health services research; Measurement; Evidence Based Medicine; Data Collection
3.  Quality of hospital care for sick newborns and severely malnourished children in Kenya: A two-year descriptive study in 8 hospitals 
Given the high mortality associated with neonatal illnesses and severe malnutrition and the development of packages of interventions that provide similar challenges for service delivery mechanisms we set out to explore how well such services are provided in Kenya.
As a sub-component of a larger study we evaluated care during surveys conducted in 8 rural district hospitals using convenience samples of case records. After baseline hospitals received either a full multifaceted intervention (intervention hospitals) or a partial intervention (control hospitals) aimed largely at improving inpatient paediatric care for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea/dehydration. Additional data were collected to: i) examine the availability of routine information at baseline and their value for morbidity, mortality and quality of care reporting, and ii) compare the care received against national guidelines disseminated to all hospitals.
Clinical documentation for neonatal and malnutrition admissions was often very poor at baseline with case records often entirely missing. Introducing a standard newborn admission record (NAR) form was associated with an increase in median assessment (IQR) score to 25/28 (22-27) from 2/28 (1-4) at baseline. Inadequate and incorrect prescribing of penicillin and gentamicin were common at baseline. For newborns considerable improvements in prescribing in the post baseline period were seen for penicillin but potentially serious errors persisted when prescribing gentamicin, particularly to low-birth weight newborns in the first week of life. Prescribing essential feeds appeared almost universally inadequate at baseline and showed limited improvement after guideline dissemination.
Routine records are inadequate to assess newborn care and thus for monitoring newborn survival interventions. Quality of documented inpatient care for neonates and severely malnourished children is poor with limited improvement after the dissemination of clinical practice guidelines. Further research evaluating approaches to improving care for these vulnerable groups is urgently needed. We also suggest pre-service training curricula should be better aligned to help improve newborn survival particularly.
PMCID: PMC3236590  PMID: 22078071
newborns; child malnutrition; quality of health care
4.  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.
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%]).
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
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
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
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
5.  Are hospitals prepared to support newborn survival? – An evaluation of eight first-referral level hospitals in Kenya 
Newborn mortality in poor parts of the world remains unacceptably high. Basic hospital care may be an important component of attempts to save newborn lives but little is known about the capacity of such facilities to provide essential care to ill newborns.
To assess the availability of resources that support the provision of basic neonatal care in eight first-referral level (district) hospitals in Kenya.
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 also 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. We 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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2751740  PMID: 19695001
6.  Developing and Introducing Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Serious Illness in Kenya 
Archives of disease in childhood  2008;93(9):799-804.
The under-5 mortality rate in most developing countries remains high yet many deaths could be averted if available knowledge was put into practice. For seriously ill children in hospital investigations in low-income countries commonly demonstrate incorrect diagnosis and treatment and frequent prescribing errors. To help improve hospital management of the major causes of inpatient childhood mortality we developed simple clinical guidelines for use in Kenya, a low-income setting. The participatory process we used to adapt existing WHO materials and further develop and build support for such guidelines is discussed. To facilitate use of the guidelines we also developed job-aides and a 5.5 days training programme for their dissemination and implementation. We attempted to base our training on modern theories around adult learning and deliberately attempted to train a ‘critical mass’ of health workers within each institution at low cost. Our experience suggests that with sustained effort it is possible to develop locally owned, appropriate clinical practice guidelines for emergency and initial hospital care for seriously ill children with involvement of pertinent stake holders throughout. Early experience suggests that the training developed to support the guidelines, despite the fact that it challenges many established practices, is well received, appropriate to the needs of front line health workers in Kenya and feasible. To our knowledge the process described in Kenya is among a handful of attempts globally to implement inpatient or referral care components of WHO / UNICEF’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness approach. However, whether guideline dissemination and implementation result in improved quality of care in our environment remains to be seen.
PMCID: PMC2654066  PMID: 18719161
7.  Health systems research in a low income country - easier said than done 
Archives of disease in childhood  2008;93(6):540-544.
Small hospitals sit at the apex of the pyramid of primary care in many low-income country health systems. If the Millennium Development Goal for child survival is to be achieved hospital care for severely ill, referred children will need to be improved considerably in parallel with primary care in many countries. Yet we know little about how to achieve this. We describe the evolution and final design of an intervention study attempting to improve hospital care for children in Kenyan district hospitals. We believe our experience illustrates many of the difficulties involved in reconciling epidemiological rigour and feasibility in studies at a health system rather than an individual level and the importance of the depth and breadth of analysis when trying to provide a plausible answer to the question - does it work? While there are increasing calls for more health systems research in low-income countries the importance of strong, broadly-based local partnerships and long term commitment even to initiate projects are not always appreciated.
PMCID: PMC2654065  PMID: 18495913
Globally many doctors, particularly in low-income countries, have no formal training in using new information to improve their practice. As a first step clinicians must have access to information and so we explored reported access in graduating medical students in Nairobi.
To evaluate final year medical students’ access to new medical information.
A cross-sectional survey of fifth (final) year medical students at the University of Nairobi using anonymous, self-administered questionnaires.
Questionnaires were distributed to 291 (85%) of a possible 343 students and returned by 152 (44%). Within the previous 12 months half reported accessing some form of new medical information most commonly from books and the internet. However, only a small number reported regular access and specific, new journal articles were rarely accessed. Absence of internet facilities, slow internet speeds and cost were common barriers to access while current training seems rarely to encourage students to seek new information.
Almost half the students had not accessed any new medical information in their final year in medical school suggesting they are ill prepared for a career that may increasingly demand life-long, self-learning.
PMCID: PMC2654067  PMID: 19152558
9.  Effect of Newborn Resuscitation Training on Health Worker Practices in Pumwani Hospital, Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(2):e1599.
Birth asphyxia kills 0.7 to 1.6 million newborns a year globally with 99% of deaths in developing countries. Effective newborn resuscitation could reduce this burden of disease but the training of health-care providers in low income settings is often outdated. Our aim was to determine if a simple one day newborn resuscitation training (NRT) alters health worker resuscitation practices in a public hospital setting in Kenya.
Methods/Principal Findings
We conducted a randomised, controlled trial with health workers receiving early training with NRT (n = 28) or late training (the control group, n = 55). The training was adapted locally from the approach of the UK Resuscitation Council. The primary outcome was the proportion of appropriate initial resuscitation steps with the frequency of inappropriate practices as a secondary outcome. Data were collected on 97 and 115 resuscitation episodes over 7 weeks after early training in the intervention and control groups respectively. Trained providers demonstrated a higher proportion of adequate initial resuscitation steps compared to the control group (trained 66% vs control 27%; risk ratio 2.45, [95% CI 1.75–3.42], p<0.001, adjusted for clustering). In addition, there was a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of inappropriate and potentially harmful practices per resuscitation in the trained group (trained 0.53 vs control 0.92; mean difference 0.40, [95% CI 0.13–0.66], p = 0.004).
Implementation of a simple, one day newborn resuscitation training can be followed immediately by significant improvement in health workers' practices. However, evidence of the effects on long term performance or clinical outcomes can only be established by larger cluster randomised trials.
Trial Registration ISRCTN92218092
PMCID: PMC2229665  PMID: 18270586
10.  Implementation of a structured paediatric admission record for district hospitals in Kenya – results of a pilot study 
The structured admission form is an apparently simple measure to improve data quality. Poor motivation, lack of supervision, lack of resources and other factors are conceivably major barriers to their successful use in a Kenyan public hospital setting. Here we have examined the feasibility and acceptability of a structured paediatric admission record (PAR) for district hospitals as a means of improving documentation of illness.
The PAR was primarily based on symptoms and signs included in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) diagnostic algorithms. It was introduced with a three-hour training session, repeated subsequently for those absent, aiming for complete coverage of admitting clinical staff. Data from consecutive records before (n = 163) and from a 60% random sample of dates after intervention (n = 705) were then collected to evaluate record quality. The post-intervention period was further divided into four 2-month blocks by open, feedback meetings for hospital staff on the uptake and completeness of the PAR.
The frequency of use of the PAR increased from 50% in the first 2 months to 84% in the final 2 months, although there was significant variation in use among clinicians. The quality of documentation also improved considerably over time. For example documentation of skin turgor in cases of diarrhoea improved from 2% pre-intervention to 83% in the final 2 months of observation. Even in the area of preventive care documentation of immunization status improved from 1% of children before intervention to 21% in the final 2 months.
The PAR was well accepted by most clinicians and greatly improved documentation of features recommended by IMCI for identifying and classifying severity of common diseases. The PAR could provide a useful platform for implementing standard referral care treatment guidelines.
PMCID: PMC1555611  PMID: 16857044
11.  Are hospitals prepared to support newborn survival? – an evaluation of eight first-referral level hospitals in Kenya* 
To assess the availability of resources that support the provision of basic neonatal care in eight first-referral level (district) hospitals in Kenya.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2751740  PMID: 19695001
neonatal care; hospitals; Kenya; observational study
12.  Adoption of recommended practices and basic technologies in a low-income setting 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2014;99(5):452-456.
In global health considerable attention is focused on the search for innovations; however, reports tracking their adoption in routine hospital settings from low-income countries are absent.
Design and setting
We used data collected on a consistent panel of indicators during four separate cross-sectional, hospital surveys in Kenya to track changes over a period of 11 years (2002–2012).
Main outcome measures
Basic resource availability, use of diagnostics and uptake of recommended practices.
There appeared little change in availability of a panel of 28 basic resources (median 71% in 2002 to 82% in 2012) although availability of specific feeds for severe malnutrition and vitamin K improved. Use of blood glucose and HIV testing increased but remained inappropriately low throughout. Commonly (malaria) and uncommonly (lumbar puncture) performed diagnostic tests frequently failed to inform practice while pulse oximetry, a simple and cheap technology, was rarely available even in 2012. However, increasing adherence to prescribing guidance occurred during a period from 2006 to 2012 in which efforts were made to disseminate guidelines.
Findings suggest changes in clinical practices possibly linked to dissemination of guidelines at reasonable scale. However, full availability of basic resources was not attained and major gaps likely exist between the potential and actual impacts of simple diagnostics and technologies representing problems with availability, adoption and successful utilisation. These findings are relevant to debates on scaling up in low-income settings and to those developing novel therapeutic or diagnostic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3995214  PMID: 24482351
Health services research; Tropical Paediatrics

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