Background: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is one of the interventions widely used in low-income countries to manage Low Birth Weight Infants (LBWIs), a global leading cause of neonatal and child mortality. LBWI largely contributes to neonatal mortality in Malawi despite the country strengthening and implementing KMC, nationwide, to enhance the survival of LBWIs. This qualitative study aimed to assess the facilitating factors and barriers to accessibility and utilization of KMC service by the parent of low birth weight infants (PLBWIs) in Mangochi District, Malawi.
Methods: Two focused group discussions assessed factors facilitating and hindering the accessibility and utilization of KMC service were conducted in April 2018 that reached out to (N = 12) participants; (n:6) PLBWI practicing KMC at Mangochi district hospital (MDH) referred from four health facilities and (n:6) high-risk pregnant mothers (HRPMs) visiting antenatal care (ANC) clinic at MDH. The availability of KMC at MDH was assessed using KMC availability checklist. The study used purposive, convenient and simple random sampling to identify eligible participants. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the findings.
Results: Sixteen themes emerged on facilitating factors and barriers to accessibility and utilization of KMC service by the PLBWIs. The identified themes included; availability of KMC providers, social factor (social support and maternal love), timing of KMC information, knowledge on KMC, health linkage systems, recognition of LBWIs, safety on the use of KMC, preference of LBWI's care practice, lived experience on KMC practice, KMC expert clients, perceived causes of LBWI births, cultural/traditional factors, religious beliefs, health-seeking behavior, women empowerment and quality of care.
Conclusions: Although KMC was available in some of the health facilities, integration of KMC messages in ANC guidelines, community awareness and in sensitization of any health intervention may enhance KMC accessibility and utilization by the targeted population.
Keywords: Barriers; Challenges; Experience; Kangaroo mother care and facilitating factors.