Improving maternal and newborn health services in Northeast Nigeria through a government-led partnership of stakeholders: a quasi-experimental study

BMJ Open. 2022 Feb 1;12(2):e048877. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-048877.


Objectives: This study aimed to quantify change in the coverage, quality and equity of essential maternal and newborn healthcare interventions in Gombe state, Northeast Nigeria, following a four year, government-led, maternal and newborn health intervention.

Design: Quasi-experimental plausibility study. Repeat cross-sectional household and linked health facility surveys were implemented in intervention and comparison areas.

Setting: Gombe state, Northeast Nigeria.

Participants: Each household survey included a sample of 1000 women aged 13-49 years with a live birth in the previous 12 months. Health facility surveys comprised a readiness assessment and birth attendant interview.

Interventions: Between 2016-2019 a complex package of evidence-based interventions was implemented to increase access, use and quality of maternal and newborn healthcare, spanning the six WHO health system building blocks.

Outcome measures: Eighteen indicators of maternal and newborn healthcare.

Results: Between 2016 and 2019, the coverage of all indicators improved in intervention areas, with the exception of postnatal and postpartum contacts, which remained below 15%. Greater improvements were observed in intervention than comparison areas for eight indicators, including coverage of at least one antenatal visit (71% (95% CI 62 to 68) to 88% (95% CI 82 to 93)), at least four antenatal visits (46% (95% CI 39 to 53) to 69% (95% CI 60 to 75)), facility birth (48% (95% CI 37 to 59) to 64% (95% CI 54 to 73)), administration of uterotonics (44% (95% CI 34 to 54) to 59% (95% CI 50 to 67)), delayed newborn bathing (44% (95% CI 36 to 52) to 62% (95% CI 52 to 71)) and clean cord care (42% (95% CI 34 to 49) to 73% (95% CI 66 to 79)). Wide-spread inequities persisted however; only at least one antenatal visit saw pro-poor improvement.

Conclusions: This intervention achieved improvements in life-saving behaviours for mothers and newborns, demonstrating that multipartner action, coordinated through government leadership, can shift the needle in the right direction, even in resource-constrained settings.

Keywords: maternal medicine; neonatology; organisation of health services; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Government
  • Humans
  • Infant Health*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Nigeria
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Young Adult