Chlorhexidine for neonatal infection: the ‘game-changer’ we’ve all been waiting for?

by Victoria Ponce Hardy
Tropical Medicine and International Health – First published: 12 February 2018

2 pp. 37 kB

That chlorhexidine is a useful commodity in the fight against neonatal infection-related mortality is not disputed. However, its presentation as a ‘game-changer’ misses the mark. Chlorhexidine’s advantages as a cheap and easy option for funders and policymakers may divert scarce financial and human resources away from more appropriate and effective interventions, potentially harming newborn survival rates in the process. Attention should instead be focused on prioritising interventions that strengthen weak health systems and improve accessibility to effective and sustainable newborn care. Investing in systems-based neonatal care interventions may be more of a ‘game-changer’ than focusing on one specific intervention. In other words, rather than focusing on one uncertain ‘game-changer’, perhaps we need to rethink the game.

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