Each year 3 million newborns die globally, and infection causes approximately 15% of these deaths. Poor hygiene and lack of antisepsis at birth and in the first week of life increases the risk of deadly but preventable infections. Ensuring optimal cord care, including use of chlorhexidine, is a crucial strategy to prevent life-threatening sepsis and cord infections and avert preventable neonatal deaths.
Use of 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate for umbilical cord care was tested in three clinical trials in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, which showed a 23% reduction in neonatal mortality if 7.1% chlorhexidine gluconate was used on the first day of birth. Given these promising results, the World Health Organization (WHO) added 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate to its Model List of Essential Medicines for Children in 2013 and issued a new guideline on umbilical cord care in early 2014, which included a formal recommendation on the use of 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate.
Over 25 countries are now moving forward with chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care from stakeholder engagement to national scale-up. The global Chlorhexidine Working Group, an international collaboration of organizations committed to advancing the use of this important life-saving drug in low-resource countries, will host a webinar to share their experiences and the different approaches that have been taken to introduce and scale-up of chlorhexidine in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya, Liberia, Mali, and Nigeria.