Quality of care assessment for small and sick newborns and young infants in Pakistan: findings from a cross-sectional study

Nousheen Akber Pradhan, Sumera Aziz Ali, Sana Roujani, Ammarah Ali, Syed Shujaat Hussain, Samia Rizwan, Shabina Ariff, Sarah Saleem, Sameen Siddiqi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Pakistan is facing a challenging situation in terms of high newborn mortality rate. Securing pregnancy and delivery care may not bring a substantial reduction in neonatal mortality, unless coupled with the provision of quality inpatient care for small and sick newborns and young infants (NYIs). We undertook this study to assess the availability and quality of newborn care services provided and the readiness of inpatient care for NYIs in Pakistan. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study across Pakistan from February to June 2019, using a purposive sample of 61% (23) of the 38 sick newborn care units at public sector health care facilities providing inpatient care for small and sick NYIs. We interviewed facility managers and health care providers by using structured questionnaires. We observed facility infrastructure and relevant metrics related to the quality of inpatient care such as types of infant care units and essential equipment, drugs, staffing cadre and facility management practices, quality assurance activities, essential services for small and sick NYI care, discharge planning, and support, quality of NYIs care record, and health information system. Results: Of the 23 facilities assessed, 83% had newborn intensive care units (NICUs), 74% reported Special Care Units (SCUs), and only 44% had Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Units. All facilities had at least one paediatrician, 13% had neonatologists and neonatal surgeons each. Around 61 and 13% of the facilities had staff trained in neonatal resuscitation and parental counseling, respectively. About 35% of the facilities monitored nosocomial infection rates, with management and interdisciplinary team meetings reported from 17 and 30% of the facilities respectively preceding the survey. Basic interventions for NYIs were available in 43% of the facilities, only 35% of facilities had system in place to monitor nosocomial infections for NYI care. Most (73%) of reviewed records of NYIs at 1–2 days had information on the birth weight, temperature recording (52%), while only a quarter (25%) of the observed records documented danger signs. Mechanism to support discharge care by having linkages with community workers was present in 13% of the facilities, while only 35% of the facilities have strategies to promote adherence after discharge. Majority (78%) of facilities reported monitoring any newborn/ neonatal care indicators, while none of the sub-units within facilities had consolidated information on stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Conclusion: The study has demonstrated important gaps in the quality of small and sick NYI inpatient care in the country. To avert neonatal mortality in the country, provincial and district governments have to take actions in improving the quality of inpatient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Facility assessment
  • Neonatal mortality
  • Pakistan
  • Quality of care
  • Service readiness
  • Small and sick newborns and young infants
  • and Inpatient care units


Dive into the research topics of 'Quality of care assessment for small and sick newborns and young infants in Pakistan: findings from a cross-sectional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this