Percent of home births with cord cut with clean instrument

Percent of home births with cord cut with clean instrument

Percent of home births with cord cut with clean instrument

The coverage of clean cord care at the time of delivery, either from use of a clean delivery kit, a new blade or instrument, or a boiled blade or instrument, to cut the baby’s umbilical cord (KPC, 2000). This should be measured for home deliveries only.

This indicator is calculated as:

# of births with a clean delivery kit or clean blade x 100


Total # of births recorded

Clean births kits typically include at least soap, a new razor blade, cord ties, gloves, and a plastic sheet.

Data Requirement(s):

Number of home births with a clean delivery kit or clean blade in a defined geographical place and time, based on self-reports of women with children 0-23 months and number of home births in the same place and time period

Where data on the numbers of live births for the de­nominator are unavailable, evaluators can calculate to­tal estimated live births from the total population and crude birth rate in a specified area. Total expected births = population x crude birth rate.

Population-based survey (national, regional, district)

Although clean cord care is as important in facility-based deliveries as home deliveries, because women who deliver at a facility typically do not know what was used to cut the cord, the births that occurred in a facility should not be included in the survey.

This indicator is most appropriate in settings where fa­cility births are rare.  It measures the coverage of clean-delivery and cord-care practices at birth for deliveries that take place both outside a facility.

Tetanus and sepsis are two leading causes of maternal and neonatal morbidity in the developing world. These deaths result from contamination from an unclean en­vironment but could be prevented with improved hy­giene and cord care at the time of delivery.  Use of clean home delivery kits and a new or sterile (i.e. boiled) blade or instrument for cutting the um­bilical cord have been shown to reduce the incidence of simple cord infection, but no studies have assessed the impact on mortality or more serious infections because of the need for very large sample sizes (Tsu, 2000). Clean cord care is one of the key elements in the Essential Newborn Care Package (WHO, 1996a).

The many elements to clean cord care and a number of alternative or complementary indicators include the fol­lowing:

  • Percent of births in which cord was cut with a new blade on a clean surface;
  • Percent of the intended audience who know the importance of clean cord care;
  • Percent of the intended audience who intend to observe clean cord care at their next birth; and
  • Percent of the intended audience who express satisfaction with the use of clean cord care at their last delivery (Koblinsky et al., 1995; Tsu, 2000).

In addition to including beneficial practices, some pro­grams may wish to monitor the reduction in potentially harmful practices that encourage the spread of tetanus. For example:

Two caveats warrant mention.  First, surveys that rely on a women‘s recall of events at the time of delivery are subject to a recall bias likely to increase with the length of the recall period. Furthermore, if a woman was attended by a traditional birth attendant, she may be unaware whether a clean delivery kit was used or how the cord was cut. A courtesy bias may affect the response if respondents are aware that programs are known to be promoting certain delivery practices.


newborn (NB), quality

Koblinsky, M., K. Mc Laurin, P. Russell-Brown, and P. Gorbach (eds). 1995. Indicators for Reproductive Health Program Evaluation. Final Report of the Subcommittee on Safe Pregnancy. Chapel Hill, NC: The EVALUATION Project.

Tsu, V. 2000. Clean Home Delivery Kit: Evaluation of the Health Impact. Seattle, WA: PATH.

WHO. 1996a. Mother-Baby Package: Implementing Safe Motherhood in Countries. Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Program, Division of Family Health. WHO/FHE/MSM/94.11. Geneva: WHO.

Related content

Quality of Care in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services