Background Efforts to end preventable newborn deaths will fail if the poor are not reached with effective interventions. To understand what works to reach vulnerable groups, we describe and explain the uptake of a highly effective community-based newborn health intervention across social strata in Asia and Africa.
Methods We conducted a secondary analysis of seven randomised trials of participatory women's groups to reduce newborn mortality in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Malawi. We analysed data on 70 574 pregnancies. Socioeconomic and sociodemographic differences in group attendance were tested using logistic regression. Qualitative data were collected at each trial site (225 focus groups, 20 interviews) to understand our results.
Results Socioeconomic differences in women's group attendance were small, except for occasional lower attendance by elites. Sociodemographic differences were large, with lower attendance by young primigravid women in African as well as in South Asian sites. The intervention was considered relevant and interesting to all socioeconomic groups. Local facilitators ensured inclusion of poorer women. Embarrassment and family constraints on movement outside the home restricted attendance among primigravid women. Reproductive health discussions were perceived as inappropriate for them.
Conclusions Community-based women's groups can help to reach every newborn with effective interventions. Equitable intervention uptake is enhanced when facilitators actively encourage all women to attend, organise meetings at the participants’ convenience and use approaches that are easily understandable for the less educated. Focused efforts to include primigravid women are necessary, working with families and communities to decrease social taboos.
- Health inequalities
- INTERNATIONAL HLTH
- HEALTH BEHAVIOUR
- REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
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