Using Community Health Workers to Monitor Maternal and Newborn Indicators: Can We Trust Their Data?

Session: Community Measurement for Maternal Newborn Health

Presenter: Rornald M. Kananura, Makerere University School of Public Health
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Background: Developing countries have no systems to track maternal and newborn health indicators accurately. Yet, complete and accurate civil registration and vital statistics systems are the preferred data source. Using community health workers to register pregnant women and newborns, and report on the maternal and newborn indicators would help in providing real time data on maternal and newborn deaths. In this study, we will study the validity of information collected by VHTs by comparing the collected by VHTs with formal surveys that were conducted during the implementation of the maternal and newborn project in eastern Uganda.

Methods: Makerere University School of Public Health is implementing a Maternal and Newborn study in Eastern Uganda. Data on maternal and newborn indicators has been collected through formal surveys, routine reports from community health workers (CHWs) and health facilities. We shall compare the VHTs reports for the period of 2014 and the survey that was conducted in December 2014 to conclude the validity of VHTs data.

Results: The 2014 CHWs reports indicated a total of 14894 deliveries of 80.9% delivered under assistance of a skilled health worker, which was the same as the survey results that indicated 80% (95%CI=76.13-83.79). Additionally, the VHT reports indicated newborn deaths and low-birth weights to be 11/1000 live births and 14% respectively which was consisted with the survey data that indicated 16/1000 live birth (95%CI=7.18-35.29) and 13% low-birth weight (95%CI=9.8%-17.9%).

Conclusion: Community health workers seem to be resourceful persons in strengthening health information systems. Developing countries and organization can track maternal and newborn indicators through the use of the community health workers rather than depending on country surveys that are always collected after 5 years. However, the criteria for selecting VHTs should consider the education level.