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Equity in newborn care, evidence from national surveys in low- and middle-income countries
Authors: Kimberly Peven, Lindsay Mallick, Cath Taylor, Debra Bick, Louise T. Day, Lionel Kadzem, and Edward Purssell
Source: International Journal for Equity in Health, Volume 20, Article number: 132 (2021); DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Health equity
Institutional births
Postnatal care
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: JUN 2021
Abstract: Background: High coverage of care is essential to improving newborn survival; however, gaps exist in access to timely and appropriate newborn care between and within countries. In high mortality burden settings, health inequities due to social and economic factors may also impact on newborn outcomes. This study aimed to examine equity in co-coverage of newborn care interventions in low- and low middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Methods: We analysed secondary data from recent Demographic and Health Surveys in 16 countries. We created a co-coverage index of five newborn care interventions. We examined differences in coverage and co-coverage of newborn care interventions by country, place of birth, and wealth quintile. Using multilevel logistic regression, we examined the association between high co-coverage of newborn care (4 or 5 interventions) and social determinants of health. Results: Coverage and co-coverage of newborn care showed large between- and within-country gaps for home and facility births, with important inequities based on individual, family, contextual, and structural factors. Wealth-based inequities were smaller amongst facility births compared to non-facility births. Conclusion: This analysis underlines the importance of facility birth for improved and more equitable newborn care. Shifting births to facilities, improving facility-based care, and community-based or pro-poor interventions are important to mitigate wealth-based inequities in newborn care, particularly in countries with large differences between the poorest and richest families and in countries with very low coverage of care.