Quality Improvement for Maternal and Newborn Health in Malawi and Uganda: A Cross-Country Analysis of Learning from the Saving Newborn Lives Project

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Save the Children’s “Saving Newborn Lives” (SNL) program supported two quality improvement initiatives for maternal and newborn from 2014 to 2017. In Malawi, the district-led quality improvement and mentorship approach – led by the Ministry of Health (MOH) with support from multiple partners – aimed to improve the hospital-based quality of newborn care and to create an institutionalized mechanism to facilitate shared learning in central and district hospitals. Adopting a phased approach, SNL supported implementation efforts from February 2014 to April 2017 in four districts. In Uganda, a Regional Learning Network initiative (RLN) was piloted in the Hoima Region by the MOH with support from Save the Children and the University Research Company. The RLN comprised 14 health facilities and the existing referral system. Conceptualization and start up activities began in December 2014, and implementation of activities took place between April 2016 to June 2017.

This report describes how these two initiatives were established and operated, and identifies the cross-cutting lessons that have been learned in their implementation through a multiple case study design. Key lessons include the importance of local buy-in and ownership, contextualized approaches to the setting, and the facilitation of teamwork and continued learning through mentorship and sub-national and facility levels of engagement.

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