Malawi has the highest preterm delivery rate in the world. This, paired with inadequate newborn care at health facilities, results in high rates of infant mortality. Managing the healthcare needs of preterm infants remains a challenge. They face complications during and after birth, and they have an increased risk of death, chronic medical problems, and malnutrition later in life. Many life-saving interventions have been successful in Malawi but they have not been scaled up into routine clinical practice.
The 'Integrating a neonatal healthcare package for Malawi' project will explore barriers and facilitators to implementing a package of neonatal interventions at health facilities to reduce neonatal mortality. Interventions include low-cost continuous airway support for breathing, breastfeeding support, Kangaroo Mother Care (skin-to-skin, mother-to-baby contact), hot cots to prevent hypothermia, management of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and phototherapy lights to treat jaundice. This project includes the training of train nurses, doctors, and other health care providers, as well as research into the best ways to implement these interventions in routine clinical practice.
This collaboration is led by Dr Kondwani Kawaza (University of Malawi) and Dr Dave Goldfarb (University of British Columbia). It is part of the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa (IMCHA) initiative, supported by Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Canada's International Development Research Centre.