Globally, large numbers of children die shortly after birth and many of them within the first 4 wk of life. This study aimed to determine the trends, patterns and causes of neonatal mortality in hospitals in Tanzania during 2006-2015.
This retrospective study involved 35 hospitals. Mortality data were extracted from inpatient registers, death registers and International Classification of Diseases-10 report forms. Annual specific hospital-based neonatal mortality rates were calculated and discussed. Two periods of 2006-2010 and 2011-2015 were assessed separately to account for data availability and interventions.
A total of 235 689 deaths were recorded and neonatal deaths accounted for 11.3% (n=26 630) of the deaths. The majority of neonatal deaths (87.5%) occurred in the first week of life. Overall hospital-based neonatal mortality rates increased from 2.6 in 2006 to 10.4 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015, with the early neonates contributing 90% to this rate constantly over time. The neonatal mortality rate was 3.7/1000 during 2006-2010 and 10.4/1000 during 2011-2015, both periods indicating a stagnant trend in the years between. The leading causes of early neonatal death were birth asphyxia (22.3%) and respiratory distress (20.8%), while those of late neonatal death were sepsis (29.1%) and respiratory distress (20.0%).
The majority of neonatal deaths in Tanzania occur among the early newborns and the trend over time indicates a slow improvement. Most neonatal deaths are preventable, hence there are opportunities to reduce mortality rates with improvements in service delivery during the first 7 d and maternal care.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.