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Unpacking the enabling factors for hand, cord and birth-surface hygiene in Zanzibar maternity units

8 June 2023

Recent national surveys in The United Republic of Tanzania have revealed poor standards of hygiene at birth in facilities. As more women opt for institutional delivery, improving basic hygiene becomes an essential part of preventative strategies for reducing puerperal and newborn sepsis. Our collaborative research in Zanzibar provides an in-depth picture of the state of hygiene on maternity wards to inform action. Hygiene was assessed in 2014 across all 37 facilities with a maternity unit in Zanzibar. We used a mixed methods approach, including structured and semi-structured interviews, and environmental microbiology. Data were analysed according to the WHO ‘cleans’ framework, focusing on the fundamental practices for prevention of newborn and maternal sepsis. For each ‘clean’ we explored the following enabling factors: knowledge, infrastructure (including equipment), staffing levels and policies. Composite indices were constructed for the enabling factors of the ‘cleans’ from the quantitative data: clean hands, cord cutting, and birth surface. Results from the qualitative tools were used to complement this information.