The intervention of women’s groups can bring down maternal and neonatal mortality,according to a study that assessed seven trials in India,Nepal,Bangladesh and Malawi. Published in The Lancet,the study associated exposure to womens groups with a 37 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and one of 23 per cent in neonatal mortality.
The study will be among those taken up at the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur from May 28 to 30. The event brings together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health of girls and women.
The seven trials reviewed 119,428 births. According to WHO,interventions were cost-effective and could save an estimated 283,000 newborn infants and 41,100 mothers per year if implemented in rural areas of 74 countries.
Between 1990 and 2010,maternal mortality in the countries under the study decreased 47 per cent and mortality in children younger than 5 years fell 37 per cent. In 2011,however,an estimated 273,465 mothers died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth and 2·9 million infants did not survive the first month of life,representing 43 per cent of all deaths in children younger than 5 years.
Lead researcher Audrey Post of the Institute of Global Health,London,said womens groups showed strong effects on clean delivery practices and noticeable effects on breastfeeding. The largest behavioural effects on mortality were seen in the south Asian studies,likely to have been caused by changes in clean delivery practices for home deliveries and improved postnatal care at home,the study said.