Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Stillbirth Data Analysis Added to Lives Saved Tool

A user-friendly computer program called the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) has been widely used for several years to show which interventions can avert the most deaths. Free and publically available, LiST provides information for specific countries and regions based on estimates of disease burden and intervention effectiveness to estimate the impact of increasing coverage of interventions on maternal, neonatal and child mortality.

LiST can now examine the impact of interventions on stillbirths.  Several articles from the recent Lancet Stillbirths Series employed LiST to estimate the impact of scaling up key interventions in reducing stillbirths as well as neonatal and maternal mortality.

The journal BMC Public Health just published the supplement “Technical inputs, enhancements and applications of the Lives Saved Tool (LiST)” which documents the analysis used to incorporate the stillbirth modeling capabilities. The supplement contains 36 articles that compare the outputs from LiST to measured mortality reductions as well as a number of papers that review and analyze assumptions and methods used in LiST. Seven of the articles focus on the impact of interventions on the risk of stillbirth for pregnant women, with an additional 5 articles focusing other interventions to address neonatal mortality.

The goal of LiST is to help governments and donor agencies make investments in maternal and child survival programs for maximum impact.  Because the quality of the data available used to make the estimates of intervention impact varies dramatically, the articles presented in the supplement highlight areas where further research is needed on effectiveness of interventions. Many of the interventions where insufficient data exist to estimate impact are being used in countries and/or promoted for wider use. Clearly if better health policy decisions are to be made, additional efforts to collect data on the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions needs to be prioritized.