Institute for Global Health


Improving maternal, newborn and child health in low-income countries


Dates: 01/03/08 - 30/06/13

Principal Investigator: Prof Anthony Costello

Partners: Women and Children First (WCF) - UK, Perinatal Care Project- Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS) - Bangladesh, Ekjut -India

Location: India and Bangladesh

Funding: Big Lottery Fund

Contact: m.caspillo-brewer@ucl.ac.uk

Project Summary 

IGH is working with consortium partners to mobilise communities to address their maternal, newborn and child health challenges.

In India, the programme involves scaling up community mobilisation with women's groups in eight districts of Jharkhand and Orissa and strengthening the capacity of Village Health and Sanitation Committees to understand and demand their rights and entitlements.

In Bangladesh, partners are expanding the coverage of women's groups to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

This is a 5-year programme funded by a Big Lottery Fund Strategic Award.

In rural communities where access to health facilities is poor, improvements in maternal, newborn and child health require interventions that increase both the supply and demand for appropriate care. Since deliveries and care mainly occur in the community rather than in facilities, interventions must improve both home care practices and the timely use of quality services. Participatory women's groups are a bottom-up intervention that addresses both supply and demand factors through community participation. These groups can lead to sustainable changes in health outcomes for mothers and babies. Building on the results of previous interventions with participatory women's groups, the BIG-funded portfolio seeks to scale-up and evaluate the impact of groups on neonatal, child (under-5) health and women's health outcomes, in India and Bangladesh, and to evaluate whether the gains achieved through the earlier phase of the intervention on neonatal survival and maternal health can be sustained over time.

Research Team
Dr Edward Fottrell
Dr Tanja Houweling
Laila Younes
Audrey Prost
Dr Jolene Skordis-Worrall
Dr Anni Pulkki-Brannstrom
Dr Neha Batura
Dr Hassan Haghparast-Bidgoli

The double burden of obesity and malnutrition in a protracted emergency setting: a cross-sectional study of Western Sahara refugees (2012)
Good Practice Guide: Community Mobilisation through women's groups to improve the health of mothers and babies


Child Health
Infectious Diseases

VIDEO: Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health
VIDEO: Ekjut film



Further research

Following the proven effectiveness of participatory women's groups on maternal and newborn health, the intervention is being adapted, applied and evaluated to assess its potential to improve child health more broadly and the health of women, including reproductive health.
In 2013, partners in Bangladesh were awarded a WHO Implementation Research Platform grant to implement the participatory women's group intervention in some of the trial control areas. It is hoped that this project will help to clarify some of the essential features and mechanisms through which women's groups achieve impact on neonatal mortality.
In 2014, partners in India and UCL will publish the results of a recently completed trial of participatory women's groups facilitated by Accredited Social Health Activists to improve maternal and newborn health.