Neonatal Health

Leveraging lessons from practice and research to guide actions toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal for Neonatal Mortality

Founder: Global Affairs Canada

PI: Dr. Amos Laar, University of Ghana

Co-PI: Dr. Kwame Sakyi , Dr. Mufaro Kanyangarara (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)


Significant progress has been made to reduce child mortality globally, but neonatal mortality has declined at a slower pace. The 1993 and 2014 Demographic and Health Surveys reported under-five mortality rates of 119 and 60 deaths per 1000 live births, respectively, for the five-year period preceding each survey.  This reduction contrasts with a rather stable neonatal mortality rate estimated at 30 and 29 deaths per 1,000 for the same time period. In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal to reduce neonatal mortality to under 12 deaths per 1,000 live births, intensified and sustained efforts are imperative. However, there is limited evidence on what priority interventions at the sub-national level will put Ghana on the trajectory to attain this goal by 2030. This project will focus on ascertaining the historical change in neonatal interventions and associated impacts in the context of policies, program strategies, and community actions. More specifically, the project aims to evaluate the historical impact of different neonatal interventions on neonatal mortality in the Northern, Volta and Upper West Regions by conducting a situational analysis. Cognizant of the role of contextual factors in facilitating or hindering progress, the project also seeks to elucidate the role of contextual factors and provide lessons learned for the improvement of the content, quality and implementation of priority interventions, maximizing the impact on neonatal mortality. The current project will provide a basis for strategic program planning by the Ghana Health Services, Savanna Signatures, and other organizations to save the most newborn lives.

We are proposing to conduct a historical and forecast analysis to identify interventions that contribute the most in reducing neonatal mortality and delineate the policy and community context that facilitates their impact.


The specific objectives are to:

1.   Assess how epidemiologic status and coverage of proven newborn interventions have contributed to the patterns of decline in neonatal mortality in the Northern, Volta, and Upper West Regions of Ghana.

Hypothesis: Coverage levels of neonatal survival interventions will explain the variability in neonatal mortality across the Northern, Upper West and Volta Regions

2.   Delineate policies, program strategies, and community actions that led to the 67% decline in neonatal mortality rate in the Northern Region of Ghana, from 1993 to 2014.

Hypothesis: Changes in contextual factors account for gains in neonatal mortality in the Northern region.

3.   Identify what evidenced-based newborn interventions need to be prioritized for the Northern, Volta, and Upper West Regions of Ghana to each reach the SDG target of at most least 12 deaths per 1000 live births.


Progress Report

We have already completed secondary data analysis to identify interventions that have saved the most newborn lives in the three regions. We are in the midst of analyzing qualitative data from hospitals, donors, ngos, opinion leaders, and government officials.


Learn more about the Global Goals in Africa