Implementation outcomes of the national scale up of chlorhexidine cord cleansing in Bangladesh’s public health system

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Background

Chlorhexidine (CHX) cleansing of the umbilical cord stump is an evidence-based intervention that reduces newborn infections and is recommended for high-mortality settings. Bangladesh is one of the first countries to adopt and scale up CHX nationally. This study evaluates the implementation outcomes for the CHX scale up in Bangladesh and identifies and describes key milestones and processes for the scale up.

Methods

We adapted the RE-AIM framework for this study, incorporating the WHO/ExpandNet model of Scale Up. Adoption and incorporation milestones were assessed through program documents and interviews with national stakeholders (n = 25). Provider training records served as a measure of reach. Implementation was assessed through a survey of readiness to provide CHX at public facilities (n = 4479) and routine data on the proportion of all live births at public facilities (n = 813 607) that received CHX from December 2016 to November 2017. Six rounds of a rolling household survey with recently-delivered women in four districts (n = 6000 to 8000 per round) measured the effectiveness and maintenance of the scale up in increasing population-level coverage of CHX in those districts.

Results

More than 80 000 providers, supervisors, and managers across all 64 districts received a half-day training on CHX and essential newborn care between July 2015 and September 2016. Seventy-four percent of facilities had at least 70% of maternal and newborn health providers with CHX training, while only 46% had CHX in stock on the day of the assessment. The provision of CHX to newborns delivered at facilities steadily increased from 15 059 newborns (24%) in December 2016 to 71 704 (72%) in November 2017. In the final household survey of four districts, 33% of newborns were reported to receive CHX, and babies delivered at public facilities had 5.04 times greater odds (95% CI = 4.45, 5.72) of receiving CHX than those delivered at home.

Conclusions

The scale up of CHX in Bangladesh achieved sustained national implementation in public health facilities. Institutionalization barriers, such as changes to supply logistics systems, had to be addressed before expansion was achieved. For greater public health impact, implementation must reach deliveries that take place at home and in the private sector.


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