Effectiveness of a campaign to implement chlorhexidine use for newborns in rural Haiti

Susan M. Walsh*, Kathleen F. Norr, Heather Sipsma, Leslie A. Cordes, Girija Sankar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Chlorhexidine topical cord application is recommended to prevent umbilical cord infections in newborns delivered at home in low-resource settings. A community campaign introducing chlorhexidine for the first time in Haiti was developed. Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) were identified as implementers since they typically cut newborns' cords. TBAs were trained to apply chlorhexidine to the cord and demonstrate this procedure to the mother. Concurrently TBAs explained reasons for using chlorhexidine exclusively instead of traditional cord care practices. The campaign's effectiveness was evaluated 7-10 days post-delivery using a survey administered by community health workers (CHWs) to 198 mothers. Results: Nearly all mothers heard about chlorhexidine use and applied it as instructed. Most mothers did not initially report using traditional cord care practices. With further probing, the majority reported covering the cord but few applied an unhygienic substance. No serious cord infections were reported. Conclusion: The campaign was highly successful in reaching mothers and achieving chlorhexidine use. In this study, the concomitant use of traditional cloth coverings or bindings of the cord did not appear harmful; however more research is needed in this area. This campaign provides a model for implementing chlorhexidine use, especially where trained TBAs and CHWs are present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number742
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 19 2017


  • Behavior change campaign
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Haiti
  • Neonate
  • Umbilical cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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