Complications due to preterm birth are the leading cause of child death globally. While 90 percent of extremely small newborns survive in high-resource settings, only ten percent survive in low-resource settings.

The complexity of care, use of technology, limitations of staff and inadequate infrastructure, compounded by the underlying vulnerability of sick and preterm newborns, can result in unintentional harm. Highlighting the need for a focus on safe and effective inpatient care in low-resource settings is an important step to avoid harm and improve health outcomes for newborns.

In November 2016, the USAID/Washington funded-Every Preemie—SCALE project (Every Preemie) convened an interagency meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss the safe and effective use of key clinical interventions used to improve preterm birth outcomes. These interventions are also relevant to sick newborn care in general. Meeting participants called for developing a series of technical briefs under the banner of Do No Harm.

In June 2017, Every Preemie launched the first four briefs in this series at the 31st International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress. The briefs were written by medical professionals including Dr. James A. Litch, Dr. Susan Niermeyer, Dr. Ashok Deorari, Dr. Indira Narayaran and Dr. Diane Spatz. The briefs benefited from extensive expert review.

The briefs focus on the safe and effective use of oxygen, infection prevention, thermal protection and human milk feeding for inpatient care of small and sick newborns. Each brief highlights how unsafe use of the intervention can cause harm, the current WHO recommendations, current evidence-based best practices and what actions can be taken to improve their use and health outcomes. Actions are highlighted across policy makers, program planners and implementers, facility managers and administrators, and health care providers.

Every Preemie—SCALE is pleased to share these technical briefs with global maternal and newborn stakeholders and welcomes their broad dissemination at the country level. It is our hope that they will be used to shape inpatient newborn care standards and practices ensuring that our most vulnerable patients receive the quality care they need to survive.

By Judith Robb-McCord and Jim Litch