Aim: To develop a model for increasing the coverage of kangaroo mother care (KMC), which involved ≥8 h of skin-to-skin contact per day and exclusive breastfeeding, for small babies with birth weight < 2000 g in South Ethiopia.
Methods: A mixed methods study was conducted between June 2017 and January 2019 at four hospitals and their catchment areas. Iterative cycles of implementation, program learning and evaluation were used to optimise KMC implementation models. The study explored the community-facility continuum of care and assessed the proportion of neonates with a birth weight less than 2000 g receiving effective KMC.
Results: Three KMC implementation models were tested with Model 2 being the final version. This model included enhanced identification of home births, improved referral linkages, immediate skin-to-skin care initiation in facilities and early contact after discharge. These improvements resulted in 86% coverage of effective facility-based KMC initiation for eligible babies. The coverage was 81.5% at discharge and 57.5% 7 days after discharge. The mean age of babies at KMC initiation was 8.2 days (SD = 5.7).
Conclusion: The study found that the KMC implementation model was feasible and can lead to substantial population-level KMC coverage for small babies.