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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Ohio State Study Pinpoints How Delays in Care Impact Neonatal Health in Rwanda

Ohio State University College of Public Health 2014 graduate Ms. Efua “Nana” Wilmot recently published her research on Rwandan neonatal health in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.  Co-authors and College of Public Health professors Dr. Marcel Yotebieng, and Dr. Alison Norris assisted Ms. Wilmot as faculty advisors during her research process.

[Photo: Ms. Wilmot (second from right) with co-workers from the World Health Organization (WHO)]

Ms. Wilmot’s study, “Missed Opportunities in Neonatal Deaths in Rwanda: Applying the Three Delays Model in a Cross-Sectional Analysis of Neonatal Death,” conducted while she was pursuing her MPH at Ohio State, used a “three-delays” model (the delays include delay in seeking care, in arriving at a health facility, and in receiving adequate care) to help pinpoint the areas that need to be improved upon to decrease child mortality. Ms. Wilmot analyzed neonatal mortality data from the Maternal and Child Health Unit database at the Ministry of Health in Rwanda.

“In the context of Rwanda, the findings of this study identify that mothers who were delayed in seeking obstetrical care combined with the delays in the care they received were associated with increased neonatal death,” Ms. Wilmot said.

Ms. Wilmot is currently a medical student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in South Carolina. Her research in Rwanda during her time at Ohio State was sparked by a practicum she held in Rwanda with the World Health Organization (WHO).

[Photo: Ms. Wilmot (right) with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame]

“Having expressed interest in maternal and child health, my WHO boss placed me in the maternal and child health unit to work on a project about community health workers and the impact they had on reducing maternal mortality in the country,” Ms. Wilmot said.

According to Ms. Wilmot, neonatal mortality accounts for about half of global deaths for children under five years old because of the vulnerability of the neonatal period, which includes the first 28 days of life.

Inherently, low-income countries bear the burden of this problem, as pregnant women have less access to health care during and after their pregnancies.

“If we can assume that virtually no child should die – for example, only four out of a thousand live births in Sweden do not live to their fifth birthday– if you consider that as what biologically can be considered acceptable, then everything after those four are unacceptable,” Dr. Yotebieng said.

“Ms. Nana’s research is really important because globally, we know why children die and we know that virtually all children’s deaths are preventable, so identifying each stage that could lead to death is very critical in reducing child mortality,” Dr. Yotebieng said.

Although this research was based on data collected in Rwanda, the data has a global impact in helping health providers target neonatal health issues in other low-income countries in order to increase healthy pregnancies and prevent health complications and death in children.