Evidence from community level inputs to improve quality of care for maternal and newborn health: Interventions and findings

Zohra S. Lassi, Jai K. Das, Rehana A. Salam, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Annually around 40 million mothers give birth at home without any trained health worker. Consequently, most of the maternal and neonatal mortalities occur at the community level due to lack of good quality care during labour and birth. Interventions delivered at the community level have not only been advocated to improve access and coverage of essential interventions but also to reduce the existing disparities and reaching the hard to reach. In this paper, we have reviewed the effectiveness of care delivered through community level inputs for improving maternal and newborn health outcomes. We considered all available systematic reviews published before May 2013 on the pre-defined community level interventions and report findings from 43 systematic reviews. Findings suggest that home visitation significantly improved antenatal care, tetanus immunization coverage, referral and early initiation of breast feeding with reductions in antenatal hospital admission, cesarean-section rates birth, maternal morbidity, neonatal mortality and perinatal mortality. Task shifting to midwives and community health workers has shown to significantly improve immunization uptake and breast feeding initiation with reductions in antenatal hospitalization, episiotomy, instrumental delivery and hospital stay. Training of traditional birth attendants as a part of community based intervention package has significant impact on referrals, early breast feeding, maternal morbidity, neonatal mortality, and perinatal mortality. Formation of community based support groups decreased maternal morbidity, neonatal mortality, perinatal mortality with improved referrals and early breast feeding rates. At community level, home visitation, community mobilization and training of community health workers and traditional birth attendants have the maximum potential to improve a range of maternal and newborn health outcomes. There is lack of data to establish effectiveness of outreach services, mass media campaigns and community education as standalone interventions. Future efforts should be concerted on increasing the availability and training of the community based skilled health workers especially in resource limited settings where the highest burden exists with limited resources to mobilize.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberS2
JournalReproductive Health
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2014


  • Quality of care
  • community based interventions
  • community health worker
  • community mobilization
  • human resource
  • maternal health
  • newborn health
  • outreach
  • support groups
  • training


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence from community level inputs to improve quality of care for maternal and newborn health: Interventions and findings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this