Document Type

Article

Department

Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)

Abstract

Background: High levels of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity remain a daunting reality in many lowincome countries. Several interventions delivered during antenatal care have been shown to improve maternal and newborn outcomes, but stockouts of medical supplies at point of care can prevent implementation of these services. We aimed to evaluate whether a supply chain strategy based on the provision of kits could improve quality of care.

Methods: We did a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised controlled trial at ten antenatal care clinics in Mozambique. Clinics were eligible if they were not already implementing the proposed antenatal care package; they served at least 200 new pregnant women per year; they had Maternal and Child Health (MCH) nurses; and they were willing to participate. All women attending antenatal care visits at the participating clinics were included in the trial. Participating clinics were randomly assigned to shift from control to intervention on prespecified start dates. The intervention involved four components (kits with medical supplies, a cupboard to store these supplies, a tracking sheet to monitor stocks, and a one-day training session). The primary outcomes were the proportion of women screened for anaemia and proteinuria, and the proportion of women who received mebendazole in the first antenatal care visit. The intervention was delivered under routine care conditions, and analyses were done according to the intention-to-treat principle. This trial is registered with the Pan African Clinical Trial Registry, number PACTR201306000550192.

Findings: Between March, 2014, and January, 2016, 218 277 antenatal care visits were registered, with 68 598 first and 149679 follow-up visits. We found significant improvements in all three primary outcomes. In first visits, 5519 (14·6%) of 37 826 women were screened for anaemia in the control period, compared with 30 057 (97·7%) of 30772 in the intervention period (adjusted odds ratio 832·40; 99% CI 666·81–1039·11; p<0·0001); 3739 (9·9%) of 37 826 women were screened for proteinuria in the control period, compared with 29874 (97·1%) of 30772 in the intervention period (1875·18; 1447·56–2429·11; p<0·0001); and 17 926 (51·4%) of 34 842 received mebendazole in the control period, compared with 24 960 (88·2%) of 28 294 in the intervention period (1·88; 1·70–2·09; p<0·0001). The effect was immediate and sustained over time, with negligible heterogeneity between sites.

Interpretation: A supply chain strategy that resolves stockouts at point of care can result in a vast improvement in quality during antenatal care visits, when compared with the routine national process for procurement and distribution of supplies.

Funding: Government of Flanders and the UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction

Publication

Lancet Global Health

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