Impact of a multifaceted intervention to improve emergency care on newborn and child health outcomes in Rwanda

Health Policy Plan. 2022 Jan 13;37(1):12-21. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czab109.


Implementing context-appropriate neonatal and paediatric advanced life support management interventions has increasingly been recommended as one of the approaches to reduce under-five mortality in resource-constrained settings like Rwanda. One such intervention is ETAT+, which stands for Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission care for severely ill newborns and children. In 2013, ETAT+ was implemented in Rwandan district hospitals. We evaluated the impact of the ETAT+ intervention on newborn and child health outcomes. We used monthly time-series data from the DHIS2-enabled Rwanda Health Management Information System from 2012 to 2016 to examine neonatal and paediatric hospital mortality rates. Each hospital contributed data for 12 and 36 months before and after ETAT+ implementation, respectively. Using controlled interrupted time-series analysis and segmented regression model, we estimated longitudinal changes in neonatal and paediatric hospital mortality rates in intervention hospitals relative to matched concurrent control hospitals. We also studied changes in case fatality rate specifically for ETAT+-targeted conditions. Our study cohort consisted of 7 intervention hospitals and 14 matched control hospitals contributing 142 424 neonatal and paediatric hospital admissions. After controlling for secular trends and autocorrelations, we found that the ETAT+ implementation had no statistically significant impact on the rate of all-cause neonatal and paediatric hospital mortality in intervention hospitals relative to control hospitals. However, the case fatality rate for ETAT+-targeted neonatal conditions decreased immediately following implementation by 5% (95% confidence interval: -9.25, -0.77) and over time by 0.8% monthly (95% confidence interval: -1.36, -0.25) in intervention hospitals compared with control hospitals. Case fatality rate for ETAT+-targeted paediatric conditions did not decrease following the ETAT+ implementation. While ETAT+ focuses on improving the quality of hospital care for both newborns and children, we only found an impact on neonatal hospital mortality for ETAT+-targeted conditions that should be interpreted with caution given the relatively short pre-intervention period and potential regression to the mean.

Keywords: ETAT+; Quality of care; hospital mortality; newborn and child health; quasi-experimental study.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Hospitals, District
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Rwanda
  • Triage