A study recently published in the Lancet Global Health on ‘Effect of COVID-19 pandemic response on intrapartum care, stillbirth and neonatal mortality outcomes in Nepal’ documents the service reduction during COVID-19. It underlines the urgent need to protect access to high quality intrapartum care and prevent excess deaths for the most vulnerable health system users during the pandemic.
The study assessed the number of institutional births, their outcomes, and quality of intrapartum care before and during the national COVID-19 lockdown in Nepal. It finds that institutional childbirth reduced by more than half during lockdown, with increases in institutional stillbirth rate and neonatal mortality, and decreases in quality of care. At the same time, some behaviours improved, notably hand hygiene and keeping the baby skin-to-skin with their mother.
Read the study
Photo: Deba Karki brings her baby in for a check-up within the first month of the baby's life at the Nwali Health post Birthing Centre, Baitadi District, Nepal, in March 2015. ©UNICEF/UN0288930