The strategy of relying on traditional birth attendants, or community midwifes, to treat neonatal sepsis with a dose of antibiotics and refer infants to health clinics is feasible and could be effective in reducing mortality in remote rural settings, a new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study has found.
The study, led by BUSPH researchers with the BU Center for Global Health & Development, found that despite having limited training, the birth attendants (TBAs) were able to “accurately identify critically ill neonates, initiate treatment in the field, and refer for further care.
The new results found that infants deemed ‘extremely sick’ by the TBAs, and who therefore were targeted for the intervention, were nearly nine times more likely to die than infants deemed well by the TBAs. This indicates that even health workers with very basic educational backgrounds and limited medical skills can be trained to accurately identify sick infants and initiate appropriate therapy, the authors said.
The findings raise the possibility that the receiving health clinics may have been insufficiently prepared to handle neonatal sepsis, the authors said, suggesting that resources could be focused on strengthening those providers, or on increasing the capacity of the TBAs themselves to manage the illness.
To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2014/08/20/traditional-birth-attendants-can-help-treat-neonatal-sepsis/