The causes of preterm neonatal deaths in India and Pakistan (PURPOSe): a prospective cohort study

Preterm birth remains the major cause of neonatal death worldwide. South Asia contributes disproportionately to deaths among preterm births worldwide, yet few population-based studies have assessed the underlying causes of deaths. Novel evaluations, including histological and bacteriological assessments of placental and fetal tissues, facilitate more precise determination of the underlying causes of preterm deaths. We sought to assess underlying and contributing causes of preterm neonatal deaths in India and Pakistan.

The project to understand and research preterm pregnancy outcomes and stillbirths in South Asia (PURPOSe) was a prospective cohort study done in three hospitals in Davangere, India, and two hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. All pregnant females older than 14 years were screened at the time of presentation for delivery, and those with an expected or known preterm birth, defined as less than 37 weeks of gestation, were enrolled. Liveborn neonates with a weight of 1000 g or more who died by 28 days after birth were included in analyses. Placentas were collected and histologically evaluated. In addition, among all neonatal deaths, with consent, minimally invasive tissue sampling was performed for histological analyses. PCR testing was performed to assess microbial pathogens in the placental, blood, and fetal tissues collected. An independent panel reviewed available data, including clinical description of the case and all clinical maternal, fetal, and placental findings, and results of PCR bacteriological investigation and minimally invasive tissue sampling histology, from all eligible preterm neonates to determine the primary and contributing maternal, placental, and neonatal causes of death.

Between July 1, 2018, and March 26, 2020, of the 3470 preterm neonates enrolled, 804 (23%) died by 28 days after birth, and, of those, 615 were eligible and had their cases reviewed by the panel. Primary maternal causes of neonatal death were hypertensive disease (204 [33%] of 615 cases), followed by maternal complication of pregnancy (76 [12%]) and preterm labour (76 [11%]), whereas the primary placental causes were maternal and fetal vascular malperfusion (172 [28%] of 615) and chorioamnionitis, funisitis, or both (149 [26%]). The primary neonatal cause of death was intrauterine hypoxia (212 [34%] of 615) followed by congenital infections (126 [20%]), neonatal infections (122 [20%]), and respiratory distress syndrome (126 [20%]).

In south Asia, intrauterine hypoxia and congenital infections were the major causes of neonatal death among preterm babies. Maternal hypertensive disorders and placental disorders, especially maternal and fetal vascular malperfusion and placental abruption, substantially contributed to these deaths.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Effect of a model based on education and teleassistance for the management of obstetric emergencies in 10 rural populations from Colombia

Introduction: Pregnant women and health providers in rural areas of low-income and middle-income countries face multiple problems concerning high-quality obstetric care. This study was performed to identify changes in maternal and perinatal indicators after implementing a model based on education and telecare between a high-complexity hospital in 10 low-complexity hospitals in a southwestern region of Colombia.
Methods: A quasiexperimental study with a historic control group and without a pretest was conducted between 2017 and 2019 to make comparisons before and after obstetric emergency care through the use of teleassistance from 10 primary care centers to the referral center (Fundación Valle del Lili, FVL).
Results: A total of 470 patients were treated before teleassistance implementation and 154 patients were treated after teleassistance implementation. After program implementation, the maternal clinical indicators showed a 65% reduction in the number of obstetric patients who were referred with obstetric emergencies. The severity of maternal disease that was measured at the time of admission to level IV through the Modified Early Obstetric Warning System score was observed to decrease.
Conclusion: The implementation of a model based on education and teleassistance between low-complexity hospitals and tertiary care centers generated changes in indicators that reflect greater access to rural areas, lower morbidity at the time of admission, and a decrease in the total number of emergency events.

Use of antenatal and delivery care services and their association with maternal and infant mortality in rural India

Optimum use of antenatal care (ANC) and delivery care services could reduce morbidity and mortality among prospective mothers and their children. However, the role of ANC and delivery services in prevention of both maternal and child mortality is poorly understood, primarily because of dearth of prospective cohort data. Using a ten-years population-based prospective cohort data, this study examined the use of ANC and delivery services and their association with maternal and infant mortality in rural India. Descriptive statistics were estimated, and multivariable logistic regression modelling was used to attain the study objective. Findings revealed that consumption of ≥ 100 iron-and-folic acid (IFA) tablet/equivalent syrup during pregnancy had a protective association with maternal and infant mortality. Lack of maternal blood group checks during pregnancy was associated with increased odds of the death of infants. Caesarean/forceps delivery and delivery conducted by untrained personnel were associated with increased odds of maternal mortality. Findings from this study reemphasizes on increasing coverage and consumption of IFA tablets/equivalent syrup. Improved ANC and delivery services and increased uptake of all types of ANC and delivery care services are equally important for improvement in maternal and child survival in rural India.

Mistreatment of women during childbirth and its influencing factors in maternity hospitals in Tehran, Iran: a formative qualitative multi-stakeholder study

Mistreatment during labour and childbirth is a common experience for many women around the world. A picture of the nature and types of mistreatment; and especially its influencing factors has not yet been identified in Iran. This study aimed to explore the manifestations of mistreatment and its influencing factors in maternity hospitals in Tehran.

A formative qualitative study was conducted using in-depth face-to-face interviews between October 2021 and May 2022 in five public hospitals. Participants included women, maternity healthcare providers, and managers at hospital and Ministry of Health levels. Participants were selected using purposive sampling. Recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed with a combined deductive and inductive approach using MAXQDA 18.

A total of 60 interviews were conducted. Women experienced various forms of mistreatment during labour and childbirth, including verbal abuse, frequent and painful vaginal examinations, neglect and abandonment, lack of supportive care, denial of mobility and pain relief, and physical abuse. Four main themes were identified as the drivers of mistreatment: (1) individual-level factors (healthcare providers perception about women’s limited knowledge on childbirth process, untrained companions, mismatched expectations of women for care, and discrimination based on ethnicity or low socioeconomic status); (2) healthcare provider-level factors (healthcare provider stress/stressful working conditions, healthcare providers with limited personal experience of pregnancy and childbirth, neglect of midwives’ identities by doctors, poor educational contents and curriculum, and low salary and lack of incentive); (3) hospital-level factors (lack of staff, lack of supervision and control, type of hospital, inadequate physical structures); and (4) national health system-level factors (lack of access to pain management during labour and childbirth and perceptions about forced vaginal birth in public hospitals).

There are multiple level drivers for mistreatment which requires multifaceted interventions. These interventions should emphasize training of pregnant women and their companions, training healthcare providers, encouraging and managing work shifts, strengthening the position of midwives in public hospitals. Moreover, continuous monitoring of the performance of providers, increase staff numbers and improvement of physical space of the maternity wards, as well as implementation of the related guidelines, including painless childbirth, should also be considered.

A Pre-experimental Study to Assess the Effectiveness of Planned Teaching Program on Knowledge and Expressed Practices Regarding Selected Obstetrical Emergencies Among Staff Nurses in Selected Hospitals of Shimla District, Himachal Pradesh

Background and objective
Good health and well-being occupy the third position among 17 sustainable development goals designed by the United Nations. The key to reducing maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality is competent and skilled birth attendance. The objectives of this study were to assess and compare the pre-test and post-test knowledge and expressed practices regarding selected obstetrical emergencies among staff nurses; to develop and determine the effectiveness of planned teaching programs on selected obstetrical emergencies among staff nurses; and to find out the correlation between knowledge and expressed practices regarding selected obstetrical emergencies.

Materials and methods
A pre-experimental study was conducted for a period of one month in 2019 among 60 staff nurses in selected hospitals through a validated tool/questionnaire, which was piloted on six staff nurses prior to starting the study. Data were collected using a structured knowledge questionnaire and expressed practices checklist.

Of note, 70% of participants had General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) as a professional qualification. The majority (51.7%) had one to five years of work experience; 46.7% of staff nurses had good knowledge in the pre-test assessment and 95% had good knowledge in the post-test evaluation. Significantly, 80% showed good expressed practices in the pre-test and 96.7% revealed good expressed practices in the post-test regarding selected obstetrical emergencies. In the pre-test, there was a significant association between the sociodemographic variables (age and work experience) with expressed practices, while that was not the case with post-test expressed practices. No significant association was found between pre- and post-test knowledge and selected demographic variables. There was a significant difference between pre-test and post-test knowledge and expressed practices score (mean pre- and post-test knowledge score: 18.82 vs. 25.43, p<0.001; mean pre- and post-test expressed practices score: 14.43 vs. 16.30, p<0.001).

Based on our findings, the planned teaching program is effective in improving the knowledge and expressed practices of staff nurses regarding selected obstetrical emergencies.

Trends and Determinants of the Use of Episiotomy in a Prospective Population-Based Registry from Central India

Background: Findings from research and recommendations from the World Health Organization favors restrictive use of episiotomy, but whether this guidance is being followed in India and factors associated with its use are not known.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data collected by the Maternal Newborn Health Registry, a prospective population-based pregnancy registry established in Central India (Nagpur, Eastern Maharashtra). We examined mode of delivery and use of episiotomy in vaginal deliveries from 2014 to 2018, as well as maternal and birth characteristics, health systems factors, and concurrent obstetric interventions associations with its use with multivariable Poisson regression models.

Results: During the five-year interval, the rate of episiotomy in vaginal birth rose from 13% to 31% despite a decline in assisted vaginal delivery. In the adjusted analysis prior birth, multiple gestations, seven or more years of maternal education, higher gestational age, higher birthweight, delivery by an obstetrician (as compared to midwife or general physician), and birth in hospital (as compared to clinic or health center) were associated with episiotomy. After adjusting for these factors, year over year rise in episiotomy was significant with an adjusted incidence rate ratio (AIRR) of 1.10 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.13; p=0.018]. We found an association between episiotomy and several other obstetrics interventions, with the strongest relationship for maternal treatment with antibiotics (AIRR 4.31, 95% CI 3.17 – 5.87; p=0.003).
Conclusions: Episiotomy in this population-based sample from central India steadily rose from 2014 to 2018. This increase over time was observed even after adjusting for patient characteristics, obstetric risk factors, and health system features, such as specialty of the delivery provider. Our findings have important implications for maternal-child health and respectful maternity care given that most women prefer to avoid episiotomy; they also highlight a potential target for antibiotic stewardship as part of global efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Trial Registration: The trial was registered at under reference number NCT01073475.

Rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa: a multivariate non-linear decomposition modelling of Demographic and Health Survey data

Globally, the rate of caesarean deliveries increased from approximately 16.0 million in 2000 to 29.7 million in 2015. In this study, we decomposed the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Data for the study were extracted from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys of twenty-eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We included 160,502 women who had delivered in health facilities within the five years preceding the survey. A multivariate non-linear decomposition model was employed to decompose the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries. The results were presented using coefficients and percentages.

The pooled prevalence of caesarean deliveries in the 28 countries considered in the study was 6.04% (95% CI = 5.21–6.88). Caesarean deliveries’ prevalence was highest in Namibia (16.05%; 95% CI = 14.06–18.04) and lowest in Chad (1.32%; 95% CI = 0.91–1.73). For rural-urban disparities in caesarean delivery, the pooled prevalence of caesarean delivery was higher in urban areas (10.37%; 95% CI = 8.99–11.75) than rural areas (3.78%; 95% CI = 3.17-4.39) across the 28 countries. Approximately 81% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries were attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics. Hence, if the child and maternal characteristics were levelled, more than half of the rural–urban inequality in caesarean deliveries would be reduced. Wealth index (39.2%), antenatal care attendance (13.4%), parity (12.8%), mother’s educational level (3.5%), and health insurance subscription (3.1%) explained approximately 72% of the rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries.

This study shows significant rural–urban disparities in caesarean deliveries, with the disparities being attributable to the differences in child and maternal characteristics: wealth index, parity, antenatal care attendance, mother’s educational level, and health insurance subscription. Policymakers in the included countries could focus and work on improving the socioeconomic status of rural-dwelling women as well as encouraging antenatal care attendance, women’s education, health insurance subscription, and family planning, particularly in rural areas.

Assessing equity of access and affordability of care among South Sudanese refugees and host communities in two districts in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey

The vast majority of refugees are hosted in low and middle income countries (LMICs), which are already struggling to finance and achieve universal health coverage for their own populations. While there is mounting evidence of barriers to health care access facing refugees, there is more limited evidence on equity in access to and affordability of care across refugee and host populations. The objective of this study was to examine equity in terms of health needs, service utilisation, and health care payments both within and between South Sudanese refugees and hosts communities (Ugandan nationals), in two districts of Uganda.

Participants were recruited from host and refugee villages from Arua and Kiryandongo districts. Twenty host villages and 20 refugee villages were randomly selected from each district, and 30 households were sampled from each village, with a target sample size of 2400 households. The survey measured condition incidence, health care seeking and health care expenditure outcomes related to acute and chronic illness and maternal care. Equity was assessed descriptively in relation to household consumption expenditure quintiles, and using concentration indices and Kakwani indices (for expenditure outcomes). We also measured the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure- payments for healthcare and impoverishment effects of expenditure across wealth quintiles.

There was higher health need for acute and chronic conditions in wealthier groups, while maternal care need was greater among poorer groups for refugees and hosts. Service coverage for acute, chronic and antenatal care was similar among hosts and refugee communities. However, lower levels of delivery care access for hosts remain. Although maternal care services are now largely affordable in Uganda among the studied communities, and service access is generally pro-poor, the costs of acute and chronic care can be substantial and regressive and are largely responsible for catastrophic expenditures, with service access benefiting wealthier groups.

Efforts are needed to enhance access among the poorest for acute and chronic care and reduce associated out-of-pocket payments and their impoverishing effects. Further research examining cost drivers and potential financing arrangements to offset these will be important.

Tools for self-management of obstetric fistula in low- and middle-income countries: a qualitative study exploring pre-implementation barriers and facilitators among global stakeholders

Background: Obstetric fistula, a debilitating maternal morbidity, occurs in contexts with poor access to and quality of emergency obstetric care, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa. As many as two million women and girls suffer from fistula, which results in urinary incontinence, vulnerability to stigma for women and families, and economic consequences for the household and the healthcare system. Surgical repair, the gold standard for treatment, remains inaccessible to many and success is not guaranteed. Non-surgical, user-controlled fistula management options are not readily accessible, although some technologies, like insertable devices, have been found to have some level of feasibility and acceptability and provide short-term control over incontinence. As evidence for the effectiveness of tools to support self-management grows, the determinants of their implementation within various contexts remain unknown. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore with key stakeholders, prior to implementation, those factors that could influence successful implementation of an innovation for self-management of obstetric fistula in a LMIC.

Methods: Stakeholders were purposefully identified from sectors that address the needs of women with obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa: clinical care, academia, international health organizations, civil society, and government. Twenty-one key stakeholders were interviewed about their perceptions of innovations for fistula self-management and their implementation. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) guided data collection and analysis of transcripts from recorded interviews. Analyses were carried out within Nvivo v.12. Deductive coding focused on constructs within the CFIR, then inductive coding identified additional constructs relevant for implementation.

Results: Potential facilitators to implementation included a clear tension for change for low-cost, accessible innovations for self-management and a relative advantage over existing tools. The development of partnerships and identification of champions could also support implementation. Barriers included the lack of evidence identifying the optimal beneficiary and the need for educational strategies that encourage acceptability among clinical providers. Inductive coding revealed an additional relevant construct of sustainability.

Conclusions: Effectiveness and implementation of non-surgical tools for fistula self-management should be further examined in LMICs. Future research could inform comprehensive fistula care to reduce vulnerability to stigma and improve quality of life.

The burden of labour and delivery-related complications among pregnant women at Mokopane Hospital of Limpopo Province

The burden of labour and delivery-related complications are health problems that are life-threatening for the fetus and pregnant women. Mokopane hospital in Waterberg of Limpopo Province reports many maternal health complications. There has not been an investigation into the burden of delivery complications and therefore this study aims to investigate the burden of labour and delivery complication experienced by women giving birth at Mokopane hospital of Limpopo province. Purpose: of this study was to explore the burden of labour and delivery-related complications among pregnant women at Mokopane hospital of Limpopo province. Methods: A cross-sectional, retrospective descriptive study was conducted. The study followed a quantitative approach and the researcher completed a questionnaire using clinical records from all delivery files of mothers delivered at maternity between January 2017 to December 2019 Mokopane hospital. Findings: The major finding of this study was the majority of women were at a low risk of pregnancy (69%) followed by a high risk of pregnancy (24%). The study further revealed that (73.7%) of women at Mokopane hospital were delivered through the normal virginal procedure and (25.8%) delivered through Caesarean section. Moreover, about 86% of the mothers were normal after delivery whilst 14% were sick or had complications. Conclusion: This study, therefore, recommends that educational programs about labour and delivery-related complications and related programs should be prioritised for pregnant women. KEY CONCEPTS The burden: Is the intensity or severity of disease and its possible impact on daily life (Gidron 2013). In the context of this study, the burden will refer to the death and loss of health due to labour and delivery-related complications among pregnant women at Mokopane hospital of Limpopo Province. Labour: This is the process of rhythmic uterine contractions which results in cervical dilatation, a descent of the presenting part; and delivery of the fetus, placenta, and membrane. (Anthony & Van Der Spuy, 2002; Clark, Van de Velde, & Fernando, 2016). In the context of this study, labour will be defined as a physiologic process during which the fetus, membranes, umbilical cord, and placenta are expelled from the uterus. Delivery related complication: Is an acute condition arising from a direct cause of maternal death, such as antepartum or postpartum haemorrhage, obstructed labour, postpartum sepsis, a complication of abortion, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, ectopic pregnancy and ruptured uterus, or indirect causes such as anaemia, malaria and tuberculosis. (WHO, 2018). In the context of this study, delivery related complications will include amongst others severe antenatal bleeding, Postpartum haemorrhage, nonconvulsive hypertensive disorder of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), Eclampsia: preeclampsia plus convulsions, Convulsions, Prolonged labour, Premature rupture of the membranes, Retained placenta. Pregnant women: Is a woman who is in the period from conception to birth in which the egg is fertilised by a sperm and then implanted in the lining of the uterus then develops into the placenta and embryo, and later into a foetus (Martin, 2015). In the context of this study, a pregnant woman will be described as a woman who is carrying a developing embryo or fetus within her body.