Interventions to reduce neonatal mortality from neonatal tetanus in low and middle income countries - a systematic review
Department of Community Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
BMC Public Health 2013, 13:322 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-322Published: 9 April 2013
In 1988, WHO estimated around 787,000 newborns deaths due to neonatal tetanus. Despite few success stories majority of the Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) are still struggling to reduce neonatal mortality due to neonatal tetanus. We conducted a systematic review to understand the interventions that have had a substantial effect on reducing neonatal mortality rate due to neonatal tetanus in LMICs and come up with feasible recommendations for decreasing neonatal tetanus in the Pakistani setting.
We systemically reviewed the published literature (Pubmed and Pubget databases) to identify appropriate interventions for reducing tetanus related neonatal mortality. A total of 26 out of 30 studies were shortlisted for preliminary screening after removing overlapping information. Key words used were “neonatal tetanus, neonatal mortality, tetanus toxoid women”. Of these twenty-six studies, 20 were excluded. The pre-defined exclusion criteria was (i) strategies and interventions to reduce mortality among neonates not described (ii) no abstract/author (4 studies) (iii) not freely accessible online (1 study) (iv) conducted in high income countries (2 studies) and (v) not directly related to neonatal tetanus mortality and tetanus toxoid immunization (5). Finally six studies which met the eligibility criteria were entered in the pre-designed data extraction form and five were selected for commentary as they were directly linked with neonatal tetanus reduction.
Interventions that were identified to reduce neonatal mortality in LMICs were: a) vaccination of women of child bearing age (married and unmarried both) with tetanus toxoid b) community based interventions i.e. tetanus toxoid immunization for all mothers; clean and skilled care at delivery; newborn resuscitation; exclusive breastfeeding; umbilical cord care and management of infections in newborns c) supplementary immunization (in addition to regular EPI program) d) safer delivery practices.
The key intervention to reduce neonatal mortality from neonatal tetanus was found to be vaccination of pregnant women with tetanus toxoid. In the resource poor countries like Pakistan, this single intervention coupled with regular effective antenatal checkups, clean delivery practices and compliance with the “high- risk” approach can be effective in reducing neonatal tetanus.