Service availability and readiness for basic emergency obstetric and newborn care: Analysis from Nepal Health Facility Survey 2021



Although there has been a significant focus on improving maternal and newborn health and expanding services in Nepal, the expected positive impact on the health of mothers and newborns has not been achieved to the desired extent. Nepal not only needs to focus on improving access to and coverage of services but also the quality to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. In this context, we aimed to analyze Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) service availability and readiness in Health Facilities (HFs) of Nepal.


We analyzed data from nationally representative Nepal Health Facility Survey (NHFS), 2021. BEmONC service availability and readiness in HFs was measured based on the “Service Availability and Readiness” manual of World Health Organization (WHO). We measured service availability by seven BEmONC signal functions. The readiness score was calculated for three domains- guidelines and staff training, essential equipment/supplies, and essential medicines on a scale of 100, and the average score for the three domains was the overall readiness score. We performed weighted descriptive and inferential analysis to account complex survey design of NHFS 2021. We summarized continuous variables with descriptive statistics like mean, standard deviation, median and interquartile range whereas categorical variables with percent and 95% confidence interval (CI). We applied simple, and multivariate linear regression to determine factors associated with the readiness of HFs for BEmONC services, and results were presented as beta (β) coefficients and 95% CI.


Of total 804 HFs offering normal vaginal delivery services, 3.1%, 89.2%, 7.7% were federal/provincial hospitals, local HFs, and private hospitals respectively. A total of 45.0% (95% CI: 34.9, 55.6) federal/provincial hospitals, 0.3% (95% CI: 0.2, 0.6), local HFs (district hospital, primary health care centers, health posts, urban health centers) and 10.5% (95% CI: 6.6, 16.4) private hospitals, had all seven BEmONC signal functions. The overall readiness of federal/provincial hospitals, local HFs, and private hospitals were 72.9±13.6, 54.2±12.8, 53.1±15.1 respectively. In multivariate linear regression, local HFs (β = -12.64, 95% CI: -18.31, -6.96) and private hospitals had lower readiness score (β = -18.08, 95% CI: -24.08, -12.08) compared to federal/provincial level hospitals. HFs in rural settings (β = 2.60, 95% CI: 0.62, 4.58), mountain belts (β = 4.18, 95% CI: 1.65, 6.71), and HFs with external supervision (β = 2.99, 95% CI:1.08, 4.89), and quality assurance activities (β = 3.59, 95% CI:1.64, 5.54) had better readiness scores.


The availability of all seven BEmONC signal functions and readiness of HFs for BEmONC services are relatively low in local HFs and private hospitals. Accelerating capacity development through training centers at the federal/provincial level, onsite coaching, and mentoring, improving procurement and supply of medicines through federal/provincial logistic management centers, and regular supportive supervision could improve the BEmONC service availability and readiness in facilities across the country.

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