Dr. Olorunsaiye Publishes on Newborn Healthcare in Senegal

By Caitlin Burns | August 13, 2020
Headshot of Dr. Olorunsaiye

Dr. Comfort Z. Olorunsaiye, assistant professor of Public Health, published an article in the November 2020 issue of Midwifery journal titled, “Association between birth attendant and early newborn care in Senegal.”

The article was co-authored with A-Mac Harris ’20MPH, as well as Dr. Korede Yusuf and Snehal Gaikwad, both from Adelphi University’s College of Nursing and Public Health. 

The sub-Saharan Africa region has the highest maternal and newborn mortality rates in the world, and more than one-half of all child deaths in the region occur during the first 28 days of life. The purpose of this study in Senegal was to assess the coverage of key evidence-based indicators of essential newborn care provided during the first two days of birth, and to explore relationships between these indicators and the type of attendant present at birth.

The study found low coverage rates of initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, as well as breastfeeding support and newborn umbilical cord examination within the first two days of birth. The research also found that women whose births were assisted by nurses and midwives were nearly twice as likely to initiate breastfeeding early compared to those assisted by doctors. In addition, women assisted at birth by doctors were significantly more likely to report breastfeeding support and newborn cord examination than those assisted by other types of birth attendants.

These findings have important implications for efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in low resource settings. Although most recent births were facility-based and assisted by skilled birth attendants, the results indicate missed opportunities to improve neonatal outcomes. 

The research team concluded that their findings draw attention to the fact that skilled birth attendants have varying expertise and play different but complementary roles in essential newborn care. They recommend that programs to increase birth attendants’ ability to provide essential newborn care should focus on the skilled providers who attend most births in Senegal. Training and supporting skilled birth attendants may bridge the gap between opportunity and practice, and lead to improved coverage and quality of newborn care. These actions can also contribute to larger efforts geared toward the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund, with their global partners, have declared 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” in recognition of their critical roles in improving maternal, newborn and child health outcomes, especially in low resource settings. Midwifery is officially recognized by the European Midwives Association and publishes high quality international research on pregnancy, birth, and maternity care.

This is the second article from Dr. Olorunsaiye’s research project on essential newborn care in sub-Saharan Africa using data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys.