Caregiver experiences and healthcare worker perspectives of accessing healthcare for low-birthweight

Sarah Unsworth, Hellen C. Barsosio, Florence Achieng, Daniel Juma, Linda Tindi, Fred Omiti, Simon Kariuki, Helen M. Nabwera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Low-birthweight (LBW) infants (<2500 g) are at greatest risk of mortality in the neonatal period, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Timely access to quality healthcare averts adverse outcomes. Aim: To explore caregiver experiences and healthcare provider perspectives of accessing healthcare for LBW infants in rural Kenya. Methods: This qualitative study was undertaken in Homa Bay County of in rural western Kenya in June 2019. In-depth interviews with eleven caregivers and four healthcare providers were conducted by a trained research assistant. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, and transcripts in the local languages were translated into English. A thematic framework was used to analyse the data. Results: At the community and individual level,community misconceptions about LBW infants, inadequate infant care practices after discharge, lack of maternal support networks, long distances from healthcare facilities and lack of financial support were key challenges. In addition, long hospital waiting times, healthcare worker strikes and the apparent inadequate knowledge and skills of healthcare providers were disincentives among caregivers. Among healthcare providers, health system deficiencies (staff shortages and inadequate resources for optimal assessment and treatment of LBW infants) and maternal illiteracy were key challenges. Education by staff during antenatal visits and community support groups were enablers. Conclusion: Accessing healthcare for LBW infants in this community is fraught with challenges which have implications for their post-discharge outcome. There is an urgent need to develop and test strategies to address the barriers at the community and health system level to optimise outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalPaediatrics and International Child Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Kenya
  • Low birthweight
  • accessing care
  • caregiver experiences


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