Assessing and applying evidence-based interventions at the community level in India as a model policy to reduce neonatal mortality rates in Nigeria

Leah Yieh, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 aims for a two-thirds reduction in death rates for children under the age of five by 2015. The greatest risk of death is in the first week of life, yet most of these deaths can be prevented by such simple interventions as improved hygiene, exclusive breastfeeding, and thermal care. The percentage of deaths in Nigeria that occur in the first month of life make up 28% of all deaths under five years, a statistic that has remained unchanged despite various child health policies. This paper will address the challenges of reducing the neonatal mortality rate in Nigeria by examining the literature regarding efficacy of home-based, newborn care interventions and policies that have been implemented successfully in India. Methods. I compared similarities and differences between India and Nigeria using qualitative descriptions and available quantitative data of various health indicators. The analysis included identifying policy-related factors and community approaches contributing to India's newborn survival rates. Databases and reference lists of articles were searched for randomized controlled trials of community health worker interventions shown to reduce neonatal mortality rates. Results. While it appears that Nigeria spends more money than India on health per capita ($136 vs. $132, respectively) and as percent GDP (5.8% vs. 4.2%, respectively), it still lags behind India in its neonatal, infant, and under five mortality rates (40 vs. 32 deaths/1000 live births, 88 vs. 48 deaths/1000 live births, 143 vs. 63 deaths/1000 live births, respectively). Both countries have comparably low numbers of healthcare providers. Unlike their counterparts in Nigeria, Indian community health workers receive training on how to deliver postnatal care in the home setting and are monetarily compensated. Gender-related power differences still play a role in the societal structure of both countries. A search of randomized controlled trials of home-based newborn care strategies yielded three relevant articles. Community health workers trained to educate mothers and provide a preventive package of interventions involving clean cord care, thermal care, breastfeeding promotion, and danger sign recognition during multiple postnatal visits in rural India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan reduced neonatal mortality rates by 54%, 34%, and 15–20%, respectively. Conclusion. Access to advanced technology is not necessary to reduce neonatal mortality rates in resource-limited countries. To address the urgency of neonatal mortality, countries with weak health systems need to start at the community level and invest in cost-effective, evidence-based newborn care interventions that utilize available human resources. While more randomized controlled studies are urgently needed, the current available evidence of models of postnatal care provision demonstrates that home-based care and health education provided by community health workers can reduce neonatal mortality rates in the immediate future.

Subject Area

Public health|Public policy|Sub Saharan Africa Studies|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Yieh, Leah, "Assessing and applying evidence-based interventions at the community level in India as a model policy to reduce neonatal mortality rates in Nigeria" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1515613.