BACKGROUND: Infections account for 15% of neonatal deaths and one tenth of maternal mortality globally. Evidence-based practices to prevent and control infection are essential to reduce newborn and maternal mortality.
AIM: To identify the barriers and opportunities experienced by staff when implementing infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines in maternity wards and delivery units in six health centres in two states in Nigeria.
METHODS: We completed a structured survey in the maternity ward and delivery unit of six health care facilities to assess critical infrastructure and equipment. A survey was completed with the matron to assess staff practices and quality assurance procedures. Data were triangulated with qualitative data from interviews with facility staff.
FINDINGS: Usable hand washing facilities - with water, functioning taps and soap available - were present in the delivery units of all six facilities; but were present in only one post-natal ward. All facilities were visibly clean, and staff demonstrated a strong will to comply with protocol. Areas of concern included effectiveness of training; inadequate availability of personal protective equipment; inadequate hand hygiene practices; and outdated procedures to reprocess reusable medical equipment.
CONCLUSION: Safe childbirth and postnatal care require comprehensive adherence to hand hygiene protocols and the use of disposable personal protective equipment. Financial, equipment, and human resource constraints are obstacles to effective implementation of IPC in labour and delivery wards in our study site. Recommended interim measures include the introduction of champions to systematise step-down trainings and to monitor and provide feedback at facility level.