Health facility service environment is an important factor for newborns survival and well–being in general and in particular in high mortality settings such as Malawi where despite high coverage of essential interventions, neonatal mortality remains high. The aim of this study is to assess whether the quality of the health service environment at birth is associated with quality of care received by the newborn.
We used data from the Malawi Millennium Development Goals Endline household survey conducted as part of MICS survey program and Service Provision Assessment Survey carried out in 2014. The analysis is based on 6218 facility births that occurred during the past 2 years. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and multivariate random effect models are used to assess the association of health facility service readiness score for normal deliveries and newborn care with newborns receiving appropriate newborn care, defined for this analysis as receiving 5 out of 6 recommended interventions during the first 2 days after birth.
Newborns in districts with top facility service readiness score have 1.5 higher odds of receiving appropriate newborn care (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.52, 95% confidence interval CI = 1.19–1.95, P = 0.001), as compared to newborns in districts with a lower facility score after adjusting for potential confounders. Newborns in the Northern region were two times more likely to receive 5 newborn care interventions as compared to newborns in the Southern region (aOR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.50–2.83, P < 0.001). Living in urban or rural areas did not have an impact on receiving appropriate newborn care.
There is need to increase the level of service readiness across all facilities, so that all newborns irrespective of the health facility, district or region of delivery are able to receive all recommended essential interventions. Investments in health systems in Malawi should concentrate on increasing training and availability of health staff in facilities that offer normal delivery and newborn care services at all levels in the country.