Background: Globally, neonatal mortality remains high despite interventions known to reduce neonatal deaths. The All Babies Count (ABC) initiative was a comprehensive health systems strengthening intervention designed by Partners In Health in collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Health to improve neonatal care in rural public facilities. ABC included provision of training, essential equipment, and a quality improvement (QI) initiative which combined clinical and QI mentorship within a learning collaborative. We describe ABC implementation outcomes, including development of a QI change package.
Methods: ABC was implemented over 18 months from 2013 to 2015 in two Rwandan districts of Kirehe and Southern Kayonza, serving approximately 500,000 people with 24 nurse-led health centers and 2 district hospitals. A process evaluation of ABC implementation and its impact on healthcare worker (HCW) attitudes and QI practice was done using program documents, standardized surveys and focus groups with facility QI team members attending ABC Learning Sessions. The Change Package was developed using mixed methods to identify projects with significant change according to quantitative indicators and qualitative feedback obtained during focus group discussions. Outcome measures included ABC implementation process measures, HCW-reported impact on attitudes and practice of QI, and resulting change package developed for antenatal care, delivery management and postnatal care.
Results: ABC was implemented across all 26 facilities with an average of 0.76 mentorship visits/facility/month and 118 tested QI change ideas. HCWs reported a reduction in barriers to quality care delivery related to training (p = 0.018); increased QI capacity (knowledge 37 to 89%, p < 0.001); confidence (47 to 89%, p < 0.001), QI leadership (59 to 91%, p < 0.001); and peer-to-peer learning (37 to 66%, p = 0.024). The final change package included 46 change ideas. Themes associated with higher impact changes included provision of mentorship and facility readiness support through equipment provision.
Conclusions: ABC provides a feasible model of an integrated approach to QI in rural Rwanda. This model resulted in increases in HCW and facility capacity to design and implement effective QI projects and facilitated peer-to-peer learning. ABC and the change package are being scaled to accelerate improvement in neonatal outcomes.
Keywords: Children; Developing countries; Health care system; Quality culture; Quality improvement.