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Understanding the challenges to caring for low birthweight babies in rural southern Malawi: a qualitative study exploring caregiver and health worker perceptions and experiences.

Koenraads, Marianne, Phuka, John, Maleta, Kenneth, Theobald, Sally ORCID: and Gladstone, Melissa (2017) 'Understanding the challenges to caring for low birthweight babies in rural southern Malawi: a qualitative study exploring caregiver and health worker perceptions and experiences.'. BMJ Global Health, Vol 2, Issue 3, e000301.

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Low birthweight (LBW) babies account for >80% of neonatal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and those who survive the neonatal period are still at risk of detrimental outcomes. LBW is a major public health problem in Malawi and strongly contributes to the country's high neonatal mortality rate. We aimed to get a better understanding of the care of LBW babies in rural Malawi in order to inform action to improve their outcomes. Qualitative methods were used to identify challenges faced by caregivers and health workers within communities and at the rural facility level. We conducted 33 in-depth interviews (18 with caregivers; 15 with health workers) and 4 focus group discussions with caregivers. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated. Thematic analysis was used to index the data into themes and develop a robust analytical framework. Caregivers referred to LBW babies as weak, with poor health, stunted growth, developmental problems and lack of intelligence. Poor nutrition of the mother and illnesses during pregnancy were perceived to be important causes of LBW. Discrimination and stigma were described as a major challenge faced by carers of LBW babies. Problems related to feeding and the high burden of care were seen as another major challenge. Health workers described a lack of resources in health facilities, lack of adherence to counselling provided to carers and difficulties with continuity of care and follow-up in the community. This study highlights that care of LBW babies in rural Malawi is compromised both at community and rural facility level with poverty and existing community perceptions constituting the main challenges. To make progress in reducing neonatal mortality and promoting better outcomes, we must develop integrated community-based care packages, improve care at facility level and strengthen the links between them.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WQ Obstetrics > Childbirth. Prenatal Care > WQ 160 Midwifery
WQ Obstetrics > WQ 500 Postnatal care
WS Pediatrics > By Age Groups > WS 420 Newborn infants. Neonatology
WY Nursing > WY 106 Community health nursing
WY Nursing > WY 157 Obstetrical nursing. Nurse midwifery
WY Nursing > WY 157.3 Maternal-child nursing. Neonatal nursing. Perinatal nursing
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 10:39
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2017 10:43


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