Missed Opportunities in Neonatal Deaths in Rwanda: Applying the Three Delays Model in a Cross-Sectional Analysis of Neonatal Death

Efua Wilmot, Marcel Yotebieng, Alison Norris, Fidele Ngabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Objective Administered in a timely manner, current evidence-based interventions could reduce neonatal deaths from infections, intrapartum injuries and complications due to prematurity. The three delays model (delay in seeking care, in arriving at a health facility, and in receiving adequate care), which has been applied to understanding maternal deaths, may be useful for understanding neonatal deaths. We assess the main causes of neonatal deaths in Rwanda and their associated delays. Methods Using a cross-sectional study design, we evaluated data from 2012 from 40 facilities in which babies were delivered. Audit committees in each facility reviewed each neonatal death in the facility and reported finding to the Ministry of Health using structured questionnaires. Information from questionnaires were centralized in an electronic database. At the end of 2012, records from 40 health facilities across Rwanda’s five provinces (mainly district hospitals) were available in the database and were used for this analysis. Results Of the 1324 neonates, the major causes of death were: asphyxia and its complications (36.7%), lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) (22.5%), and prematurity (22.4%). At least one delay was experienced by nearly three-quarters of neonates: Maternal Delay in Seeking Care 22.1%, Maternal Delay in Arrival to Care 11.2%, Maternal Delay in Adequate Care 14.2%, Neonatal Delay in Seeking Care 8.1%, Neonatal Delay in Arrival to Care 9.3%, and Neonatal Delay in Adequate Care 29.1%. Neonates with each of the main causes of death had statistically significantly increased odds of experiencing Maternal Delay in Seeking Care. Asphyxia deaths had increased odds of experiencing all three Maternal Delays. LRTI deaths had increased odds of all three Neonatal Delays. Conclusion Delays for women in seeking obstetrical care is a critical factor associated with the main causes of neonatal death in Rwanda. Improving obstetrical care quality could reduce neonatal deaths due to asphyxia. Likewise, reducing all three delays could reduce neonatal deaths due to LRTI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1121-1129
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes



  • Audit
  • Maternal delay
  • Neonatal mortality
  • Rwanda
  • Three delays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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