Innovative Product Development Partnership Reduced Neonatal Mortality In Nepal Through Improved Umbilical Cord Care
Author: Peter Oyloe, Leela Khanal, Stephen Hodgins, Sabita T. Pradhan, Penny Dawson
Approximately 40 percent of all newborn deaths in Nepal are attributable to neonatal infections. A randomized controlled trial conducted in Nepal in the period 2002–05 on the application of a solution of the disinfectant chlorhexidine to umbilical cord stumps of newborns showed a reduced risk of infections and death. In response to these results, the Government of Nepal and various partners mobilized to deliver this simple, low-cost intervention on a national scale. We describe the design, development, and maturation of a partnership among the government, technical assistance agencies, and a local pharmaceutical company to create a suitable, commercially available gel product to reduce newborn infections. Essential contributors to the partnership’s effectiveness included having a for-profit pharmaceutical company as a fully engaged partner; having responsive, flexible relationships among the partners that evolved over time; and paying attention to competition within the private sector. A less formalized arrangement among partners allowed them to build trust in each other over time. Government stewardship of the program throughout the scale-up process ensured that policy and systems integration were aligned as the program matured.