Where technology does not go: specialised neonatal care in resource-poor and conflict-affected contexts

To assess the performance of the MSF specialised neonatal care model across Africa and Southern Asia

Abstract

Setting

Although neonatal mortality is gradually decreasing worldwide, 98% of neonatal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where hospital care for sick and premature neonates is often unavailable. Médecins Sans Frontières Operational Centre Brussels (MSFOCB) managed eight specialised neonatal care units (SNCUs) at district level in low-resource and conflict-affected settings in seven countries

Objective

To assess the performance of the MSF SNCU model across different settings in Africa and Southern Asia, and to describe the set-up of eight SNCUs, neonate characteristics and clinical outcomes among neonates from 2012 to 2015

Design

Multicentric descriptive study. Results: The MSF SNCU model was characterised by an absence of high-tech equipment and an emphasis on dedicated nursing and medical care. Focus was on the management of hypothermia, hypoglycaemia, feeding support and early identification/treatment of infection. Overall, 11 970 neonates were admitted, 41% of whom had low birthweight (2500 g). The main diagnoses were low birthweight, asphyxia and neonatal infections. Overall mortality was 17%, with consistency across the sites. Chances of survival increased with higher birthweight.

Conclusion

The standardised SNCU model was implemented across different contexts and showed in-patient outcomes within acceptable limits. Low-tech medical care for sick and premature neonates can and should be implemented at district hospital level in low-resource settings.

This research was supported by the UK Department for International Development’s Operational Research Capacity Building Programme led by the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union)

Citation

Dörnemann J, van den Boogaard W, Van den Bergh R, Takarinda KC, Martinez P, Bekouanebandi JG, Javed I, Ndelema B, Lefèvre A, Khalid GG, Zuniga I. Where technology does not go: specialised neonatal care in resource-poor and conflict-affected contexts. Public Health Action. 2017;7(2):168–74.

Where technology does not go: specialised neonatal care in resource-poor and conflict-affected contexts

Published 21 June 2017