Manandhar DS1, Costello AM de La2

1 Mother Infant Research Activities (MIRA), Kathmandu, Nepal

2 Institute of Child Health (ICH), London, UK


Objective: To review the current status of neonatal health in Nepal and a community based strategy used to improve it

Methods: Published data on neonatal health in Nepal and various programs started to improve it will be reviewed. A community based strategy used by MIRA and ICH to improve neonatal health in a district will be discussed.

Results: 27 % of babies are of low birth weight. Over 90 % of births occur at home and are attended by untrained persons. Neonatal mortality rate of 50/1000 live births constitute 63 % of infant mortality rate. Three main causes of neonatal death are birth asphyxia, low birth weight and its complications and septicemia. Facilities for the care of sick neonates are very limited and mainly confined to Kathmandu, capital of the country. The government's Safe Motherhood Program launched in 1996 to reduce the very high maternal mortality consists of mother-baby package. Although emphasis of this program is mainly in saving life of the mother there is provision for neonatal care. Geographical, socio-economic and other constraints have caused major problems in providing neonatal care. MIRA in collaboration with the ICH, London has started a community based newborn care program. The main principles are bringing awareness among mothers about the basic care of the newborn infants at home, strengthening of the health care facilities and use of a community based worker to provide care to the baby at birth and thereafter. The results of this intervention approach are expected soon.

Conclusion: Health status of the newborn infant in Nepal is still poor. Two thirds of infant deaths occur in the newborn period. Safe Motherhood and other programs started by the government and non-government agencies and particularly a community based program started recently are expected to improve the newborn infantí»s health in the country.