Increased neonatal mortality rate as a result of Covid19 restrictions in Nepal


Researchers from Uppsala University, Department of Women's and Children's Health (IMCH), can in an article in the journal Lancet Global Health show how the restrictions introduced in Nepal as a result of the COVID19 pandemic led to a sharp increase in early neonatal mortality. By comparing data from nine hospitals before and after the lock-down that was introduced on March 21 this year, it was clear that the proportion of children who died during the first week after childbirth increased threefold.

More than 20,000 deliveries were included and during the study period the number of women giving birth at the nine hospitals decreased by half, which indicates that the actual death rate was even higher as many could not receive qualified care for possible complications. The reasons for the lower proportion of women who gave birth in hospital may be due to limited mobility and access to transport, but also to an increased fear of seeking care.

Nepal is a country that has made great strides in reducing child mortality, something that is now threatened by the restrictions that have been introduced. This shows the importance of having a holistic perspective and being aware of the negative consequences of the restrictions introduced to stop the spread of COVID19. Similar effects can be expected in countries in the same situation
around the world, which threatens global efforts to improve the health of women and children.
 "These are worrying results that have reversed the previous positive trend in maternal and child health for twenty years in Nepal. Reducing barriers for women to receive qualified obstetric care, reducing inequalities in care utilization and supporting midwives to provide high-quality care are of the utmost importance, ”says Ashish KC, lead researcher for the study.

For more information:
Read the press release from Uppsala University

The researcher blog - Healthy Newborn Network

In the following video, Dr Ashish K.C gives insight into the research and the interesting result.

Ashish KC, Rejina Gurung, Mary V Kinney, Avinash K Sunny, Md Moinuddin, Omkar Basnet, Prajwal Paudel, Pratiksha Bhattarai, Kalpana Subedi, Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Joy E Lawn, Mats Målqvist. Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic response on intrapartum care, stillbirth, and neonatal mortality outcomes in Nepal: a prospective observational study. (2020) Lancet Global Health. DOI:10.1016/ S2214-109X(20)30345-4