Reductions of maternal and child mortality are among the top priorities of global health and development policy. In 2012 worldwide 6.6 million children under five years died as a result of largely preventable causes. The birth process still remains to be a critical and highly risky period in mothers´ and children´s life and accounts for half of all child deaths. Safe childbirth procedures as well as pre- and postnatal care could prevent most of the maternal and neonatal deaths. The WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist (SCC) is a potentially very cost-effective tool for reducing mortality of newborns and mothers in low-income and middle-income countries. We will evaluate the effectiveness of the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist in Indonesia using a mixed methods approach. The main part of the evaluation is a randomized intervention, where hospitals that participate in the study are randomly assigned to adopt the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist in their obstetrics units. The remaining hospitals will serve as a control group. The randomized-controlled design of the evaluation will allow us to causally identify the quantitative effect of the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist on maternal and child health outcomes. The second part of the evaluation is a qualitative study where we interview obstetricians, midwives and nurses regarding their experiences with the checklist. We conduct the evaluation in Indonesia because we can rely on a large network of hospitals there with which we have a long-standing relationship as part of the Indonesian-German Health Education Partnership (IGHEP). The cultural, economic and environmental diversity of the Indonesian archipelago make it an ideal case study for evaluating the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist in different settings.
Sebastian Vollmer is currently an assistant professor of development economics at the University of Göttingen and an adjunct assistant professor of global health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Göttingen. He was a postdoc at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and a visiting assistant professor at Dartmouth College. He has served as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.