Implementing the World Health Organization safe childbirth checklist in a district Hospital in Rwanda: a pre- and post-intervention study

Matern Health Neonatol Perinatol. 2018 Apr 4:4:7. doi: 10.1186/s40748-018-0075-3. eCollection 2018.


Background: Worldwide maternal mortality remains high, with approximately 830 maternal deaths occurring each day. About 90% of these deaths occur in low-income countries. Evidenced-based essential birth practices administered during routine obstetrical care and childbirth are key to reducing maternal and neonatal deaths. The WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist (SCC) is a low-cost tool designed to ensure birth attendants perform 29 essential birth practices (EBP) at four critical periods in the birth continuum. This study aimed to evaluate compliance with EBP in Masaka District Hospital both before and after the implementation of the WHO-SCC.

Methods: This quality improvement project took place in the Masaka District Hospital in Rwanda. Observations of the 29 EBPs were done before and after WHO SCC implementation. The implementation process consisted of providing training in the use of the checklist to all clinical staff and posting SCC posters at different locations in the maternity unit.

Results: A total 391 birth events were observed pre-intervention and 389 post-intervention. The overall EBP compliance rate increased from 46% pre-intervention to 56% post-intervention (P = 0.005). Significant improvements were seen in 11 out of 29 EBPs.

Conclusion: The implementation of the WHO SCC improved the overall EBP compliance rate in Masaka District Hospital. Determining the root cause of low compliance rate of some EBP may allow for more successful implementation of EBP interventions in the future. After further study, the SCC should be considered for scale up.

Keywords: Child mortality; Essential birth practice; Evidence-based; Maternal mortality; Quality improvement; Rwanda; WHO safe childbirth checklist.