Implementing an intrapartum package of interventions to improve quality of care to reduce the burden of preterm birth in Kenya and Uganda

Abstract
Background
Quality of care during the intrapartum and immediate postnatal period for maternal and newborn health remains a major challenge due to the multiple health system bottlenecks in low-income countries. Reports of complex interventions that have been effective in reducing maternal and newborn mortality in these settings are usually limited in description, which inhibits learning and replication. We present a detailed account of the Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi) implementation process, experiences and lessons learnt to inform scale-up and replication.

Methods
Using the TiDieR framework, we detail how the PTBi implemented an integrated package of interventions through a pair-matched cluster randomized control trial in 20 health facilities in Migori County, Kenya, and the Busoga region in east central Uganda from 2016 to 2019. The package aimed to improve quality of care during the intrapartum and immediate postnatal period with a focus on preterm birth. The package included data strengthening (DS) and introduction of a modified WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist (mSCC), simulation-based training and mentoring (PRONTO), and a Quality Improvement (QI) Collaborative.

Results
In 2016, DS and mSCC were introduced to improve existing data processes and increase the quality of data for measures needed to evaluate study impact. PRONTO and QI interventions were then rolled out sequentially. While package components were implemented with fidelity, some implementation processes required contextual adaptation to allow alignment with national priorities and guidelines, and flexibility to optimize uptake.

Conclusion
Lessons learned included the importance of synergy between interventions, the need for local leadership engagement, and the value of strengthening local systems and resources. Adaptations of individual elements of the package to suit the local context were important for effective implementation, and the TIDieR framework provides the guidance needed in detailed description to replicate such a complex intervention in other settings. Detailed documentation of the implementation process of a complex intervention with mutually synergistic components can help contextualize trial results and potential for scale-up. The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.govNCT03112018, registered December 2016, posted April 2017.