Women's group support can improve birth outcomes

Mar 07, 2010
The groups have been shown to have a dramatic impact on neonatal and maternal health in the region. Credit: Sudharak Olwe

Community support groups can reduce neonatal mortality, and lower rates of maternal depression-provided that the population coverage is wide enough and the programmes are appropriately designed. These are the conclusions of two Articles, published Online First in The Lancet.

Participatory women's groups have shown promise in trials in Nepal, reducing neonatal mortality by about one-third. To test this approach further, two research teams undertook cluster-randomised controlled trials that were led by Anthony Costello, University College London Centre for International Health and Development, Institute of Child Health, London, UK.

In the first Article, Prasanta Tripathy, Ekjut, Chakradharpur, Jharkand, India and colleagues, assigned clusters in a population of 228186 people in Jharkand and Orissa in eastern India to either participating in women's groups focusing on the reduction of maternal and newborn health problems, or not. They monitored 19030 births over 3 years, and found that neonatal mortality was 32% lower overall, and 45% lower in years 2 and 3 for women who had been living in areas where women's groups existed than for those who had not. Moderate maternal depression had fallen by 57% by the third year.

The authors say: "Women's groups led by peer facilitators reduced neonatal mortality rates and moderate at low cost in largely tribal, rural populations of eastern India. The most likely mechanism of mortality reduction was through improved hygiene and care practices."

They conclude: "Participatory groups have the advantage of helping the poorest, being scalable at low cost, and producing potentially wide-ranging and long-lasting effects. By addressing critical consciousness, groups have the potential to create improved capability in communities to deal with the health and development difficulties arising from poverty and social inequalities."

In a second Article, Professor Kishwar Azad, Perinatal Care Project, Diabetic Association of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and colleagues monitored neonatal mortality for 36113 births over 3 years in a population of 503163. As with Tripathy et al's study, the study population was divided into clusters, some of which were assigned to support from women's groups. The authors found that the community support made no difference to neonatal .

They say: "For participatory women's groups to have a significant effect on in rural Bangladesh, detailed attention to programme design and contextual factors, enhanced population coverage, and increased enrolment of newly pregnant women might be needed."

They add: "Women's groups, if scaled to an adequate coverage, have the potential to reach the poorest people and bring about substantial health and non-health benefits. Nonetheless, a women's group approach requires adequate human resources support for community mobilisation and appropriate coverage."

Explore further: Frozen blueberries pack more powerful antioxidant punch

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hidden tragedy of under reported neonatal mortality

Mar 28, 2008

In Northern Vietnam, neonatal mortality is almost four times higher than the official figure according to a report published today in the open access journal BMC International Health and Human Rights. This under-reporting could ...

Trends in heart mortality reversing in younger women

May 01, 2008

Coronary heart disease mortality in younger women could be on the rise, according to findings in the open access journal, BMC Public Health, published by BioMed Central. High levels of smoking, increasing obesity and a lack ...

Report: Pregnant women need flu shots

Sep 23, 2009

Pregnant women should be sure to get all their flu shots as soon as the vaccines become available this year to protect them against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 (swine) flu, according to eight leading national maternal ...

Recommended for you

Background TV can be bad for kids

3 hours ago

Parents, turn off the television when your children are with you. And when you do let them watch, make sure the programs stimulate their interest in learning.

Many kids with medicaid use ER as doctor's office: CDC

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Children covered by Medicaid, the publicly funded insurance program for the poor, visit the emergency room for medical care far more often than uninsured or privately insured youngsters, a U.S. ...

User comments : 0