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1.  A conference report on prenatal corticosteroid use in low- and middle-income countries 
Objective
To evaluate the evidence for prenatal corticosteroid use in low- and middle-income countries and to make recommendations regarding implementation and further research.
Methods
Studies and meta-analyses on prenatal corticosteroids relevant to low- and middle-income countries were identified and reviewed at the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Project (MCHIP) Antenatal Corticosteroid Conference held in Washington on October 19, 2010.
Results
There is strong evidence regarding the effectiveness of prenatal corticosteroid use in hospitals in high- and middle-income countries, usually in settings with high-level newborn care. For births occurring in hospitals in low-income countries without high-level neonatal care or for births outside hospitals, no studies have been conducted to evaluate prenatal corticosteroid use. The efficacy and safety of prenatal corticosteroid use in these settings must be evaluated.
Conclusions
The conference working group recommended expanding the use of prenatal corticosteroids in hospitals with high-level newborn care in low-income countries. For other low-income country settings, further research regarding efficacy and safety should precede the widespread introduction of prenatal corticosteroids.
doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.07.017
PMCID: PMC3910250  PMID: 21930269
Low-resource countries; Prenatal corticosteroids; Preterm birth
2.  Mapping for maternal and newborn health: the distributions of women of childbearing age, pregnancies and births 
Background
The health and survival of women and their new-born babies in low income countries has been a key priority in public health since the 1990s. However, basic planning data, such as numbers of pregnancies and births, remain difficult to obtain and information is also lacking on geographic access to key services, such as facilities with skilled health workers. For maternal and newborn health and survival, planning for safer births and healthier newborns could be improved by more accurate estimations of the distributions of women of childbearing age. Moreover, subnational estimates of projected future numbers of pregnancies are needed for more effective strategies on human resources and infrastructure, while there is a need to link information on pregnancies to better information on health facilities in districts and regions so that coverage of services can be assessed.
Methods
This paper outlines demographic mapping methods based on freely available data for the production of high resolution datasets depicting estimates of numbers of people, women of childbearing age, live births and pregnancies, and distribution of comprehensive EmONC facilities in four large high burden countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Satellite derived maps of settlements and land cover were constructed and used to redistribute areal census counts to produce detailed maps of the distributions of women of childbearing age. Household survey data, UN statistics and other sources on growth rates, age specific fertility rates, live births, stillbirths and abortions were then integrated to convert the population distribution datasets to gridded estimates of births and pregnancies.
Results and conclusions
These estimates, which can be produced for current, past or future years based on standard demographic projections, can provide the basis for strategic intelligence, planning services, and provide denominators for subnational indicators to track progress. The datasets produced are part of national midwifery workforce assessments conducted in collaboration with the respective Ministries of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to identify disparities between population needs, health infrastructure and workforce supply. The datasets are available to the respective Ministries as part of the UNFPA programme to inform midwifery workforce planning and also publicly available through the WorldPop population mapping project.
doi:10.1186/1476-072X-13-2
PMCID: PMC3923551  PMID: 24387010
3.  Reaching Mothers and Babies with Early Postnatal Home Visits: The Implementation Realities of Achieving High Coverage in Large-Scale Programs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68930.
Background
Nearly half of births in low-income countries occur without a skilled attendant, and even fewer mothers and babies have postnatal contact with providers who can deliver preventive or curative services that save lives. Community-based maternal and newborn care programs with postnatal home visits have been tested in Bangladesh, Malawi, and Nepal. This paper examines coverage and content of home visits in pilot areas and factors associated with receipt of postnatal visits.
Methods
Using data from cross-sectional surveys of women with live births (Bangladesh 398, Malawi: 900, Nepal: 615), generalized linear models were used to assess the strength of association between three factors - receipt of home visits during pregnancy, birth place, birth notification - and receipt of home visits within three days after birth. Meta-analytic techniques were used to generate pooled relative risks for each factor adjusting for other independent variables, maternal age, and education.
Findings
The proportion of mothers and newborns receiving home visits within three days after birth was 57% in Bangladesh, 11% in Malawi, and 50% in Nepal. Mothers and newborns were more likely to receive a postnatal home visit within three days if the mother received at least one home visit during pregnancy (OR2.18, CI1.46–3.25), the birth occurred outside a facility (OR1.48, CI1.28–1.73), and the mother reported a CHW was notified of the birth (OR2.66, CI1.40–5.08). Checking the cord was the most frequently reported action; most mothers reported at least one action for newborns.
Conclusions
Reaching mothers and babies with home visits during pregnancy and within three days after birth is achievable using existing community health systems if workers are available; linked to communities; and receive training, supplies, and supervision. In all settings, programs must evaluate what community delivery systems can handle and how to best utilize them to improve postnatal care access.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068930
PMCID: PMC3714261  PMID: 23874816
4.  Measuring Coverage in MNCH: Indicators for Global Tracking of Newborn Care 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001415.
In a PLOS Medicine Review, Allisyn Moran and colleagues introduce the work of the Newborn Indicators Technical Working Group (TWG), which was convened by the Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives program in 2008, and describe the indicators and survey questions agreed upon by the TWG to measure coverage of care in the immediate newborn period.
Neonatal mortality accounts for 43% of under-five mortality. Consequently, improving newborn survival is a global priority. However, although there is increasing consensus on the packages and specific interventions that need to be scaled up to reduce neonatal mortality, there is a lack of clarity on the indicators needed to measure progress. In 2008, in an effort to improve newborn survival, the Newborn Indicators Technical Working Group (TWG) was convened by the Saving Newborn Lives program at Save the Children to provide a forum to develop the indicators and standard measurement tools that are needed to measure coverage of key newborn interventions. The TWG, which included evaluation and measurement experts, researchers, individuals from United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, and donors, prioritized improved consistency of measurement of postnatal care for women and newborns and of immediate care behaviors and practices for newborns. In addition, the TWG promoted increased data availability through inclusion of additional questions in nationally representative surveys, such as the United States Agency for International Development–supported Demographic and Health Surveys and the United Nations Children's Fund–supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Several studies have been undertaken that have informed revisions of indicators and survey tools, and global postnatal care coverage indicators have been finalized. Consensus has been achieved on three additional indicators for care of the newborn after birth (drying, delayed bathing, and cutting the cord with a clean instrument), and on testing two further indicators (immediate skin-to-skin care and applications to the umbilical cord). Finally, important measurement gaps have been identified regarding coverage data for evidence-based interventions, such as Kangaroo Mother Care and care seeking for newborn infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001415
PMCID: PMC3646209  PMID: 23667335
5.  Association of antenatal care with facility delivery and perinatal survival – a population-based study in Bangladesh 
Background
Antenatal Care (ANC) during pregnancy can play an important role in the uptake of evidence-based services vital to the health of women and their infants. Studies report positive effects of ANC on use of facility-based delivery and perinatal mortality. However, most existing studies are limited to cross-sectional surveys with long recall periods, and generally do not include population-based samples.
Methods
This study was conducted within the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) in Matlab, Bangladesh. The HDSS area is divided into an icddr,b service area (SA) where women and children receive care from icddr,b health facilities, and a government SA where people receive care from government facilities. In 2007, a new Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (MNCH) program was initiated in the icddr,b SA that strengthened the ongoing maternal and child health services including ANC. We estimated the association of ANC with facility delivery and perinatal mortality using prospectively collected data from 2005 to 2009. Using a before-after study design, we also determined the role of ANC services on reduction of perinatal mortality between the periods before (2005 – 2006) and after (2008–2009) implementation of the MNCH program.
Results
Antenatal care visits were associated with increased facility-based delivery in the icddr,b and government SAs. In the icddr,b SA, the adjusted odds of perinatal mortality was about 2-times higher (odds ratio (OR) 1.91; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.50, 2.42) among women who received ≤1 ANC compared to women who received ≥3 ANC visits. No such association was observed in the government SA. Controlling for ANC visits substantially reduced the observed effect of the intervention on perinatal mortality (OR 0.64; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.78) to non-significance (OR 0.81; 95% CI: 0.65, 1.01), when comparing cohorts before and after the MNCH program initiation (Sobel test of mediation P < 0.001).
Conclusions
ANC visits are associated with increased uptake of facility-based delivery and improved perinatal survival in the icddr,b SA. Further testing of the icddr,b approach to simultaneously improving quality of ANC and facility delivery care is needed in the existing health system in Bangladesh and in other low-income countries to maximize health benefits to mothers and newborns.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-111
PMCID: PMC3495045  PMID: 23066832
6.  Beliefs and practices during pregnancy and childbirth in urban slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:791.
Background
Worldwide urbanization has become a crucial issue in recent years. Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely-populated countries in the world, has been facing rapid urbanization. In urban areas, maternal indicators are generally worse in the slums than in the urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program at BRAC, a non governmental organization, works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in the urban slums of Bangladesh. This paper describes maternal related beliefs and practices in the urban slums of Dhaka and provides baseline information for the Manoshi program.
Methods
This is a descriptive study where data were collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The respondents for the quantitative methods, through a baseline survey using a probability sample, were mothers with infants (n = 672) living in the Manoshi program areas. Apart from this, as part of a formative research, thirty six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted during the same period from two of the above Manoshi program areas among currently pregnant women who had also previously given births (n = 18); and recently delivered women (n = 18).
Results
The baseline survey revealed that one quarter of the recently delivered women received at least four antenatal care visits and 24 percent women received at least one postnatal care visit. Eighty-five percent of deliveries took place at home and 58 percent of the deliveries were assisted by untrained traditional birth attendants. The women mostly relied on their landladies for information and support. Members of the slum community mainly used cheap, easily accessible and available informal sectors for seeking care. Cultural beliefs and practices also reinforced this behavior, including home delivery without skilled assistance.
Conclusions
Behavioral change messages are needed to increase the numbers of antenatal and postnatal care visits, improve birth preparedness, and encourage skilled attendance at delivery. Programs in the urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for key influential persons in the community, particularly landladies who serve as advisors and decision-makers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-791
PMCID: PMC3532223  PMID: 22978705
Beliefs and practices; Maternal care; Urban-slum; Bangladesh
8.  Causes of neonatal and maternal deaths in Dhaka slums: Implications for service delivery 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:84.
Background
Bangladesh has about 5.7 million people living in urban slums that are characterized by adverse living conditions, poor access to healthcare services and health outcomes. In an attempt to ensure safe maternal, neonatal and child health services in the slums BRAC started a programme, MANOSHI, in 2007. This paper reports the causes of maternal and neonatal deaths in slums and discusses the implications of those deaths for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health service delivery.
Methods
Slums in three areas of Dhaka city were selected purposively. Data on causes of deaths were collected during 2008-2009 using verbal autopsy form. Two trained physicians independently assigned the cause of deaths.
Results
A total of 260 newborn and 38 maternal deaths were identified between 2008 and 2009. The majority (75%) of neonatal deaths occurred during 0-7 days. The main causes of deaths were birth asphyxia (42%), sepsis (20%) and birth trauma (7%). Post partum hemorrhage (37%) and eclampsia (16%) were the major direct causes and hepatic failure due to viral hepatitis was the most prevalent indirect cause (11%) of maternal deaths.
Conclusion
Delivery at a health facility with child assessment within a day of delivery and appropriate treatment could reduce neonatal deaths. Maternal mortality is unlikely to reduce without delivering at facilities with basic Emergency Obstetric Care (EOC) and arrangements for timely referral to EOC. There is a need for a comprehensive package of services that includes control of infectious diseases during pregnancy, EOC and adequate after delivery care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-84
PMCID: PMC3398326  PMID: 22280444
9.  Effectiveness of an integrated approach to reduce perinatal mortality: recent experiences from Matlab, Bangladesh 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:914.
Background
Improving perinatal health is the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goal for child survival. Recently, several reviews suggest that scaling up available effective perinatal interventions in an integrated approach can substantially reduce the stillbirth and neonatal death rates worldwide. We evaluated the effect of packaged interventions given in pregnancy, delivery and post-partum periods through integration of community- and facility-based services on perinatal mortality.
Methods
This study took advantage of an ongoing health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) and a new Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) Project initiated in 2007 in Matlab, Bangladesh in half (intervention area) of the HDSS area. In the other half, women received usual care through the government health system (comparison area). The MNCH Project strengthened ongoing maternal and child health services as well as added new services. The intervention followed a continuum of care model for pregnancy, intrapartum, and post-natal periods by improving established links between community- and facility-based services. With a separate pre-post samples design, we compared the perinatal mortality rates between two periods--before (2005-2006) and after (2008-2009) implementation of MNCH interventions. We also evaluated the difference-of-differences in perinatal mortality between intervention and comparison areas.
Results
Antenatal coverage, facility delivery and cesarean section rates were significantly higher in the post- intervention period in comparison with the period before intervention. In the intervention area, the odds of perinatal mortality decreased by 36% between the pre-intervention and post-intervention periods (odds ratio: 0.64; 95% confidence intervals: 0.52-0.78). The reduction in the intervention area was also significant relative to the reduction in the comparison area (OR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.56-0.95; P = 0.018).
Conclusion
The continuum of care approach provided through the integration of service delivery modes decreased the perinatal mortality rate within a short period of time. Further testing of this model is warranted within the government health system in Bangladesh and other low-income countries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-914
PMCID: PMC3257323  PMID: 22151276
10.  Psychological and social consequences among mothers suffering from perinatal loss: perspective from a low income country 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:451.
Background
In developed countries, perinatal death is known to cause major emotional and social effects on mothers. However, little is known about these effects in low income countries which bear the brunt of perinatal mortality burden. This paper reports the impact of perinatal death on psychological status and social consequences among mothers in a rural area of Bangladesh.
Methods
A total of 476 women including 122 women with perinatal deaths were assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS-B) at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum, and followed up for negative social consequences at 6 months postpartum. Trained female interviewers carried out structured interviews at women's home.
Results
Overall 43% (95% CI: 33.7-51.8%) of women with a perinatal loss at 6 weeks postpartum were depressed compared to 17% (95% CI: 13.7-21.9%) with healthy babies (p = < 0.001). Depression status were significantly associated with women reporting negative life changes such as worse relationships with their husband (adjusted OR = 3.89, 95% CI: 1.37-11.04) and feeling guilty (adjusted OR = 2.61, 95% CI: 1.22-5.63) following the results of their last pregnancy outcome after 6 months of childbirth.
Conclusions
This study highlights the greatly increased vulnerability of women with perinatal death to experience negative psychological and social consequences. There is an urgent need to develop appropriate mental health care services for mothers with perinatal deaths in Bangladesh, including interventions to develop positive family support.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-451
PMCID: PMC3124431  PMID: 21658218
Perinatal death; postnatal depression; social consequences; rural women; Bangladesh
11.  The perspectives of clients and unqualified allopathic practitioners on the management of delivery care in urban slums, Dhaka, Bangladesh - a mixed method study 
Background
BRAC is implementing a program to improve maternal and newborn health among the urban poor in the slums of Bangladesh (Mansohi), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Formative research has demonstrated that unqualified allopathic practitioners (UAPs) are commonly assisting home-delivery. The objective of this study was to explore the role of unqualified allopathic practitioners during home delivery in urban slums of Dhaka.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted between September 2008 and June 2009 in Kamrangirchar slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Through a door-to-door household survey, quantitative data were collected from 463 women with a home birth and/or trial of labor at home. We also conducted seven in-depth interviews with the UAPs to explore their practices.
Results
About one-third (32%) of the 463 women interviewed sought delivery care from a UAP. We did not find an association between socio-demographic characteristics and care-seeking from a UAP, except for education of women. Compared to women with three or more pregnancies, the highest odds ratio was found in the primi-gravidity group [odds ratio (OR): 3.46; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.65-7.25)], followed by women with two pregnancies (OR: 2.54; 95% CI: 1.36-4.77) to use a UAP. Of women who reported at least one delivery-related complication, 45.2% received care from the UAPs. Of 149 cases where the UAP was involved with delivery care, 133 (89.3%) received medicine to start or increase labor with only 6% (9 of 149) referred by a UAP to any health facility. The qualitative findings showed that UAPs provided a variety of medicines to manage excessive bleeding immediately after childbirth.
Conclusion
There is demand among slum women for delivery-related care from UAPs during home births in Bangladesh. Some UAPs' practices are contrary to current World Health Organization recommendations and could be harmful. Programs need to develop interventions to address these practices to improve perinatal care outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-50
PMCID: PMC2940791  PMID: 20822521
12.  Newborn care practices among slum dwellers in Dhaka, Bangladesh: a quantitative and qualitative exploratory study 
Background
Urbanization is occurring at a rapid pace, especially in low-income countries. Dhaka, Bangladesh, is estimated to grow to 50 million by 2015, with 21 million living in urban slums. Although health services are available, neonatal mortality is higher in slum areas than in urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in urban slums in Bangladesh. This paper describes newborn care practices in urban slums in Dhaka and provides program recommendations.
Methods
A quantitative baseline survey was conducted in six urban slum areas to measure newborn care practices among recently delivered women (n = 1,256). Thirty-six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore newborn care practices among currently pregnant women (n = 18) and women who had at least one delivery (n = 18).
Results
In the baseline survey, the majority of women gave birth at home (84%). Most women reported having knowledge about drying the baby (64%), wrapping the baby after birth (59%), and cord care (46%). In the in-depth interviews, almost all women reported using sterilized instruments to cut the cord. Babies are typically bathed soon after birth to purify them from the birth process. There was extensive care given to the umbilical cord including massage and/or applying substances, as well as a variety of practices to keep the baby warm. Exclusive breastfeeding was rare; most women reported first giving their babies sweet water, honey and/or other foods.
Conclusion
These reported newborn care practices are similar to those in rural areas of Bangladesh and to urban and rural areas in the South Asia region. There are several program implications. Educational messages to promote providing newborn care immediately after birth, using sterile thread, delaying bathing, and ensuring dry cord care and exclusive breastfeeding are needed. Programs in urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for women, especially first time mothers. These interventions may improve newborn survival and help achieve MDG4.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-54
PMCID: PMC2784437  PMID: 19919700
13.  Postpartum Haemorrhage and Eclampsia: Differences in Knowledge and Care-seeking Behaviour in Two Districts of Bangladesh 
In high- and low-performing districts of Bangladesh, the study explored the demand-side of maternal healthcare by looking at differences in perceived knowledge and care-seeking behaviours of women in relation to postpartum haemorrhage or eclampsia. Haemorrhage and eclampsia are two major causes of maternal mortality in Bangladesh. The study was conducted during July 2006–December 2007. Both postpartum bleeding and eclampsia were recognized by women of different age-groups as severe and life-threatening obstetric complications. However, a gap existed between perception and actual care-seeking behaviours which could contribute to the high rate of maternal deaths associated with these conditions. There were differences in care-seeking practices among women in the two different areas of Bangladesh, which may reflect sociocultural differences, disparities in economic and educational opportunities, and a discrimination in the availability of care.
PMCID: PMC2761783  PMID: 19489413
Beliefs; Care-seeking behaviour; Maternal mortality; Postpartum haemorrhage; Eclampsia; Qualitative research; Bangladesh
14.  Birth-Preparedness for Maternal Health: Findings from Koupéla District, Burkina Faso 
Maternal mortality is a global burden, with more than 500,000 women dying each year due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Birth-preparedness and complication readiness is a comprehensive strategy to improve the use of skilled providers at birth, the key intervention to decrease maternal mortality. Birth-preparedness and complication readiness include many elements, including: (a) knowledge of danger signs; (b) plan for where to give birth; (c) plan for a birth attendant; (d) plan for transportation; and (e) plan for saving money. The 2003 Burkina Faso Demographic and Health Survey indicated that only 38.5% of women gave birth with the assistance of a skilled provider. The Maternal and Neonatal Health Program of JHPIEGO implemented a district-based model service-delivery system in Koupéla, Burkina Faso, during 2001–2004, to increase the use of skilled providers during pregnancy and childbirth. In 2004, a cross-sectional survey with a random sample of respondents was conducted to measure the impact of birth-preparedness and complication readiness on the use of skilled providers at birth. Of the 180 women who had given birth within 12 months of the survey, 46.1% had a plan for transportation, and 83.3% had a plan to save money. Women with these plans were more likely to give birth with the assistance of a skilled provider (p=0.07 and p=0.03 respectively). Controlling for education, parity, average distance to health facility, and the number of antenatal care visits, planning to save money was associated with giving birth with the assistance of a skilled provider (p=0.05). Qualitative interviews with women who had given birth within 12 months of the survey (n=30) support these findings. Most women saved money for delivery, but had less concrete plans for transportation. These findings highlight how birth-preparedness and complication readiness may be useful in increasing the use of skilled providers at birth, especially for women with a plan for saving money during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3001153  PMID: 17591346
Maternal health; Birth-preparedness; Delivery; Childbirth; Burkina Faso; West Africa

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