FETP Fellows in South America Help Pilot Tool to Prevent Infections in Neonatal Intensive Care Units

The neonatal period is one of the most vulnerable times in a child’s life. Significant gaps in infection prevention and control (IPC) in neonatal care settings contribute to increased risk of healthcare-associated infections for neonates. An increasing number of facilities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are providing neonatal intensive care, even in areas with minimal access to invasive devices or additional healthcare support. Ensuring implementation of evidence-based IPC guidelines and best practices in the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) is essential for improving quality of care for newborns.

Although existing IPC assessment tools contain NICU components, dedicated NICU IPC assessment tools are lacking, particularly those that are appropriate for resource-limited settings. The International Infection Control Program (IICP) has thus developed a dedicated NICU Targeted Assessment for Prevention (N-TAP) of bloodstream infections. This tool will facilitate the identification of IPC gaps, and an accompanying database will provide an automated feedback report outlining and prioritizing the gaps identified by assessment results. 

TEPHINET is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in-country partners, including Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) fellows, to validate the tool’s content, evaluate usability, and inform modifications to the methodology prior to scaling up usage in NICUs across other LMICs. The N-TAP and automated feedback reporting system are currently being piloted in level 2 and 3 NICUs (those that provide specialized care) in Colombia, Paraguay, and Brazil.   

TEPHINET advocated for the inclusion of current FETP fellows to assist with data collection and provide an opportunity for hands-on training. At least 75 percent of the FETP training period is devoted to practicing field epidemiology under the guidance of a mentor, and this project provides the perfect opportunity for fellows to gain experience using science to improve public health. 

In Brazil and Paraguay, data entry is currently underway, while the team in Colombia continues to meet with target hospitals to gain approval for data collection. The anticipated end date for the pilot is July 31, followed by review of the findings and discussion of next steps for scaling up the N-TAP tool.