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Household Survey Measurement of Newborn Postnatal Care: Coverage, Quality Gaps, and Internal Inconsistencies in Responses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Kimberly Peven, Louise Tina Day, Debra Bick, Edward Purssell, Cath Taylor, Joseph Akuze, Lindsay Mallick

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-751
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Health Science and Practice
Issue number4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to acknowledge the Demographic and Health Survey Program for providing the data used in the study as well as all the women and families who took part in the surveys. Publisher Copyright: © Peven et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly cited. To view a copy of the license, visit

King's Authors


Background: Reliable measurement of newborn postnatal care is essential to understand gaps in coverage and quality and thereby improve outcomes. This study examined gaps in coverage and measurement of newborn postnatal care in the first 2 days of life. Methods: We analyzed Demographic and Health Survey data from 15 countries for 71,366 births to measure the gap between postnatal contact coverage and content coverage within 2 days of birth. Coverage was a contact with the health system in the first 2 days (postnatal check or newborn care intervention), and quality was defined as reported receipt of 5 health worker-provided interventions. We examined internal consistency between interrelated questions regarding examination of the umbilical cord. Results: Reported coverage of postnatal check ranged from 13% in Ethiopia to 78% in Senegal. Report of specific newborn care interventions varied widely by intervention within and between countries. Quality-coverage gaps were high, ranging from 26% in Malawi to 89% in Burundi. We found some internally inconsistent reporting of newborn care. The percentage of women who reported that a health care provider checked their newborn's umbilical cord but responded “no” to the postnatal check question was as high as 16% in Malawi. Conclusion: Reliable measurement of coverage and content of early postnatal newborn care is essential to track progress in improving quality of care. Postnatal contact coverage is challenging to measure because it may be difficult for women to distinguish postnatal care from intrapartum care and it is a less recognizable concept than antenatal care. Co-coverage measures may provide a useful summary of contact and content, reflecting both coverage and an aspect of quality.

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