A community-based package of interventions for low birth weight infants: a feasibility study

Project 5 Jul 2021

2.6 million newborn die every year. Interventions to reduce these newborn deaths are of high priority. This project aims to develop and test a novel package of community-based interventions targeting newborns at high risk of death. The knowledge and the outputs generated will be used to develop and evaluate a package of care in a large-scale intervention study to generate policy-relevant data.

LSTM has been instrumental in driving the agenda for improving facility-based maternal and newborn care through quality improvement initiatives, in partnership with ministries of health in a number of sub-Saharan African countries. These have included health care worker in-service training programmes on emergency care during labour and maternal death review audits. While successful, post-discharge outcomes for low birth weight infants are either poor or largely unknown due to inadequate systems of follow-up and the weak interphase between the health facilities and community health structures.

The proposed package of community-based interventions for low birth weight infants seeks to strengthen the support and follow-up mechanisms for these vulnerable infants, in order to reduce the burden of ill health and death.

The Principal Investigator on this study is LSTM’s Dr Helen Nabwera (Senior Clinical Research Associate). The study was conducted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Centre for Global Health Research (KEMRI-CGHR through Dr Simon Kariuki), Homa County Referral Hospital and LSTM (through Professor Feiko ter Kuile).

At the start of the study, mothers who had previously had low birth weight (LBW) babies, were selected to receive training on ways to provide optimal care for these vulnerable babies. These peer mothers then worked closely with community health workers and the study team (Ms Florence Were, Mr Ondiek Ayaye, Mr Ernest Omondi and Mr Daniel Juma) to provide support to other mothers of LBW babies who had been discharged from hospital.

Funded by The LSTM Director’s Catalyst Fund