Tracking Newborn Outcomes in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo



Despite recent progress in reducing deaths among children under age 5 years, a significant number of infants continue to die in the first month of life, exceeding 2.8 million worldwide.  The highest rates of neonatal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. And yet, while neonatal mortality data (and other newborn outcomes data) is historically measured on a national level with byzantine paper and phone surveys, the interventions to reduce that mortality happen at thousands upon thousands of individual care facilities. Using Magpi, an American NGO called Global Strategies and a Congolese hospital called HEAL Africa are teaming up to microtarget neonatal outcomes at a specific hospital.  The result is relevant data leading to real-time adjustments in strategy and resource allocation.

“Magpi makes this type of high frequency data collection possible.” – Dr. Joshua Bress

“You are what you pay attention to,” says Global Strategies president Dr. Joshua Bress.  “Congolese nurses at HEAL Africa are tracking neonatal deaths, stillbirths, admissions to the neonatal unit and whether all respiratory equipment is functioning every single day.  Magpi makes this type of high frequency data collection possible.  The data not only guides our interventions, but it transmits a value to each metric.  If someone asks you to track something every single day, whatever that thing is, I believe you will come to the conclusion that the thing being tracked is valuable.  We have seen this with the maintenance of the respiratory machines that have remained 100% functional despite heavy use.”

“The data called [the nurses] to action and gave their training a sense of urgency to improve the care for babies.” – Jean Armas

The team in eastern Congo is making progress.  Early on, the Magpi data revealed some startling findings.  While babies born at HEAL Africa had some of the lowest mortality rates in the country, those transferred after birth had extreme mortality rates.  HEAL Africa and Global Strategies knew they needed to go upstream. They modified the survey to capture referral site location and then trained nurses at those sites that were sending the most transfer cases.  “We knew if we saw the value in the data, that these referral sites would too,” says Jean Armas, Program Coordinator at Global Strategies, “When we brought together nurses from other facilities, we showed them the data on transfer cases.  The data called them to action and gave their training a sense of urgency to improve the care for babies.”

Read more about Global Strategies’ work at

See article from Magpi site here.