Evidence Base

The following published scientific papers form the evidence base for Women and Children First’s work.  The studies marked with an asterisk *are those that Women and Children First was directly involved with.

  • The Warmi Project in Bolivia demonstrated how community organisation can improve maternal and child health in remote areas with little access to health services. (O’Rourke 1998)
  • The Makwanpur Study in Nepal showed that women's groups reduced the newborn mortality rate by 30%. (Manandhar, 2004)
  • The Ekjut trial showed that in marginalised populations in eastern India, the newborn mortality rate could be cut by up to 45% where women's groups were established. (Tripathy, 2010) *
  • A trial carried out in Mumbai, India, showed that while it is feasible to mobilise communities in an urban area and behaviour change is achievable, there were no significant effects on health care or death rates. (Moore, 2012)
  • The trial of two interventions in Mchinji district in Malawi showed that community initiatives can achieve a 74% reduction in the maternal death rate and 41% reduction in the newborn death rate. (Lewycka, 2012)
  • The MaiKhanda trial in three districts of Malawi achieved a 16% reduction in the perinatal mortality rate by mobilising communities through women's groups, and reduced the newborn mortality rate by 22% in areas where quality improvement in health facilities was carried out in conjunction with women's groups. (Colbourn 2013) *
  • The Perinatal Care Project trial showed that increased coverage of participatory women’s groups reduced newborn mortality by 38% in three districts in Bangladesh. (Fottrell, 2013) *
  • An analysis of the equity impact of women’s groups from the Ekjut trial found that the effects of the intervention on newborn mortality rates were substantially stronger among the most socio-economically marginalised communities. (Houweling, 2012)
  • A meta-analysis of seven cluster randomised controlled trials of women’s groups in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Malawi (Prost, 2013) concluded that where at least a third of pregnant women participated in women’s groups, maternal deaths were cut by almost half, and deaths in the first twenty-eight days of life by over a third
  • A recent study in Nepal demonstrated disabled women's inclusion in groups and suggests this indicates that the intervention reached some of the most marginalized women, enabling them to share in the health improvements that women's group participation can bring.  (Morrison, 2015)

Other papers relating to understanding the women’s groups process can be found at http://womensgroups.tumblr.com/research.

This body of research will enable Women and Children First, country governments, other NGOs and communities to learn from and build on this powerful, low-cost initiative.