Tackling equitable coverage and quality of care for neonates in hospitals: a pre-post assessment on asphyxia interventions in Mesoamerica

Published December 1, 2021, in BMC Pediatrics (opens in a new window)


Intrapartum-related hypoxic events, or birth asphyxia, causes one-fourth of neonatal deaths globally and in Mesoamerica. Multidimensional care for asphyxia must be implemented to ensure timely and effective care of newborns. Salud Mesoamérica Initiative (SMI) is a performance-based program seeking to improve maternal and child health for low-income areas of Central America. Our objective was to assess the impact of SMI on neonatal asphyxia care in health centers and hospitals in the region.


A pre-post design. Two hundred forty-eight cases of asphyxia were randomly selected from medical records at baseline (2011–2013) and at second-phase follow-up (2017–2018) in Mexico (state of Chiapas), Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala as part of the SMI Initiative evaluation. A facility survey was conducted to assess quality of health care and the management of asphyxia. The primary outcome was coverage of multidimensional care for the management of asphyxia, consisting of a skilled provider presence at birth, immediate assessment, initial stabilization, and appropriate resuscitation measures of the newborn. Data were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression.


Management of asphyxia improved significantly after SMI. Proper care of asphyxia in intervention areas was better (OR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.3–4.6) compared to baseline. Additionally, multidimensional care was significantly higher in Honduras (OR = 4.0; 95% CI = 1.4–12.0) than in Mexico. Of the four multidimensional care components, resuscitation showed the greatest progress by follow-up (65.7%) compared to baseline (38.7%).


SMI improved the care for neonatal asphyxia management across all levels of health care in all countries. Our findings show that proper training and adequate supplies can improve health outcomes in low-income communities. SMI provides a model for improving health care in other settings.


This work was supported, in whole or in part, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Grant Number OPPGH5328), Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (10.13039/501100004892), the Government of Canada (P000554/D000168), and the Carlos Slim Foundation (10.13039/100004429). Under the grant conditions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Generic License has already been assigned to the Author Accepted Manuscript version that might arise from this submission. AMK is funded by the National Institutes of Health T32 grant (T32GM086270). The funders had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation of results, or writing of the manuscript. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-America Development Banks, its Board of Directors, or the countries they represent.

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Kamath, A.M., Thom, M.G., Johanns, C.K. et al. Tackling equitable coverage and quality of care for neonates in hospitals: a pre-post assessment on asphyxia interventions in Mesoamerica. BMC Pediatr 21, 534 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-021-02999-0.


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