Acceptability of evidence-based neonatal care practices in rural Uganda – implications for programming
1 Makerere University School of Public Health, Kampala, Uganda
2 Iganga District Health Department, Iganga, Uganda
3 International Health, Dept of Public Health Sciences (IHCAR), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
4 Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children USA, Uganda field office, Uganda
5 International Maternal and Child Health, Dept of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, 8:21 doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-21Published: 21 June 2008
Although evidence-based interventions to reach the Millennium Development Goals for Maternal and Neonatal mortality reduction exist, they have not yet been operationalised and scaled up in Sub-Saharan African cultural and health systems. A key concern is whether these internationally recommended practices are acceptable and will be demanded by the target community. We explored the acceptability of these interventions in two rural districts of Uganda.
We conducted 10 focus group discussions consisting of mothers, fathers, grand parents and child minders (older children who take care of other children). We also did 10 key informant interviews with health workers and traditional birth attendants.
Most maternal and newborn recommended practices are acceptable to both the community and to health service providers. However, health system and community barriers were prevalent and will need to be overcome for better neonatal outcomes. Pregnant women did not comprehend the importance of attending antenatal care early or more than once unless they felt ill. Women prefer to deliver in health facilities but most do not do so because they cannot afford the cost of drugs and supplies which are demanded in a situation of poverty and limited male support. Postnatal care is non-existent. For the newborn, delayed bathing and putting nothing on the umbilical cord were neither acceptable to parents nor to health providers, requiring negotiation of alternative practices.
The recommended maternal-newborn practices are generally acceptable to the community and health service providers, but often are not practiced due to health systems and community barriers. Communities associate the need for antenatal care attendance with feeling ill, and postnatal care is non-existent in this region. Health promotion programs to improve newborn care must prioritize postnatal care, and take into account the local socio-cultural situation and health systems barriers including the financial burden. Male involvement and promotion of waiting shelters at selected health units should be considered in order to increase access to supervised deliveries. Scale-up of the evidence based practices for maternal-neonatal health in Sub-Saharan Africa should follow rapid appraisal and adaptation of intervention packages to address the local health system and socio-cultural situation.