Improving quality of intrapartum and immediate postpartum care in public facilities: experiences and lessons learned from Rajasthan state, India

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2022 Jul 23;22(1):586. doi: 10.1186/s12884-022-04888-5.


Background: In spite of considerable improvement in maternal and neonatal outcomes over the past decade in India, the current maternal mortality ratio and neonatal mortality rate are far from the Sustainable Development Goal targets due to suboptimal quality of maternity care. A package of interventions for improving quality of intrapartum and immediate postpartum care was co-designed with the Ministry of Health as the Dakshata program and implemented in public sector health facilities in selected districts in the state of Rajasthan of India since June 2015. This article describes the key strategies, interventions, results and challenges from four years of Dakshata program implementation.

Methods: We have conducted secondary analysis of program data (government data) collected from 202 public facilities across 20 districts of Rajasthan state. The data collected between June-August 2015 (baseline) and the data collected between May-August 2019 (latest) were analyzed. The data sources included: facility assessments, service statistics, monthly progress reports.

Results: During the period of program implementation, there were 17,94,249 deliveries accounting for 70% of institutional deliveries in intervention districts. As a result of the intervention, there was a notable increase in competency of health care providers, availability of essential resources, achievement of labour room standards and adherence to evidence-based clinical standards. We also observed reductions in the proportion of referrals for pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage and neonatal asphyxia by 11, 8 and 3 percentage points respectively. Similarly, data revealed a reduction in stillbirth rates in Dakshata intervention facilities (19.3 vs 15.3) compared to non-Dakshata facilities (21.8 vs 18).

Conclusions: Our experience and findings indicate that the quality of intrapartum and immediate postpartum care can be improved in low- and middle-income countries with the approach presented in this paper.

Keywords: Intrapartum care; Maternal health; Newborn health; Postpartum care; Quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health Services*
  • Parturition
  • Postnatal Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Facilities