Theses Doctoral

Three Papers Exploring the Evidence for Improving Quality of Care for Small and Sick Newborns in Low- and Middle-income Countries With a Focus on Rural Ghana

Thomas, Hana S.

Globally, nearly 40% of under-five deaths occur in the first 28 days after birth. Neonatal mortality is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with an estimated 80% of all neonatal deaths occurring in the two regions. Low quality of care has been associated with poor health outcomes in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Low quality of intrapartum care has been shown to be strongly associated with poor newborn outcomes. Improving access to high-quality neonatal care for small and sick newborns is crucial to reducing preventable deaths in the immediate newborn period.

Over the last two decades, significant advances have been made in measuring the coverage, quality and equity of maternal health services. However, few studies to-date have explored the quality of care for small and sick newborns in resource-constrained settings. Those studies conducted in low-and middle-income settings demonstrate that in-patient service readiness for small and sick newborns is low. While there have been increasing efforts to develop and standardize metrics for measuring facility readiness for this population, few studies to-date have explored the effective coverage – a term used to denote utilization adjusted for quality – of services for emergency newborn care in such settings. Recommendations for intervention packages for small and sick newborns have largely focused on secondary and tertiary levels of care, leaving the role of community and peripheral facilities under-explored. Central to the agenda of improving the coverage of high-quality services for small and sick newborns is also strengthening the capacity of health workforce that participate in their care. A plethora of training packages and supervision strategies have been tried and tested in LMICs for improving emergency obstetric care with the focus on emergency newborn limited to a few complications. These human resources initiatives have been criticized for being fragmented in implementation. Little is known about the quality of training and supervision for emergency newborn care competencies for the rural health workforce in under-resourced settings.

This dissertation is presented in three papers to help evaluate specific components of quality and coverage for the small and sick newborn population in LMICs. Paper one identifies and describes the breadth of strategies used to successfully translate evidence-based community interventions for the management of newborns with possible serious bacterial infections (PSBI), enabling the generation of a common and consistent taxonomy for practitioners and researchers in this domain. Paper two uses quantitative methods to examine the service readiness and effective coverage of services for small and sick newborns at the sub-district and district levels in rural Ghana. Paper three, using a mixed-methods design, assesses health worker perceptions of the quality and gaps in training, supervision and tele-mentoring activities for emergency obstetric and newborn care in rural Ghana.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Population and Family Health
Thesis Advisors
Kachur, Stephen Patrick
Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2022